A wen, also called a steatoma, is a lump that slowly appears on your scalp. It is usually soft and sometimes firm but not hard. You may have heard of them. You may even have had one Ė or have one now. Many people have experienced a wen and may have had it for years, getting used to it and beginning to think of it as part of their personal physical makeup. If you have just had one appear be assured that there probably isnít anything to be concerned about. A wen or steatoma is a harmless cyst containing the fatty substance. One study found that they occur almost twice as often in men as in women. They may occur at any time in life but they are most likely to appear in the 30s and 40s.
Steato is the prefix for fat. Steatoma is a fatty mass. It is thought to be caused by an obstructed sebaceous or oil gland. When obstructed, the sebaceous excretion has to go somewhere so a cyst is formed under the skin. You will remember from the article The Hair Follicle that the sebaceous (oil) gland is found in the scalp under the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin. Sebaceous glands are positioned on either side of the hair follicles and are there to lubricate and condition each hair as it grows. Sebaceous glands also serve to keep the scalp skin lubricated and in good condition.
Wens are not painful or uncomfortable. Many people who have found that they have a wen will opt not have them removed, however they are unsightly, especially if the hair is not thick enough to cover the wen. Large wens can be visible through very fine or thin hair and special measures are often required in styling to camouflage the wen.
To remove a wen, a physician is required. It is removed surgically, sometimes requiring suturing afterward however some can be removed with a very small incision. In this case, the contents of the cyst are drained and the lining is removed through the incision, which is small enough to heal without sutures.
Although it is not clinically proven, it has been reported to me that using the hair product, Nioxin has caused a wen to go away on its own. Apparently the exfoliating characteristics of the Nioxin three part system unclogs the hair follicles and oil glands causing scalp health to return. The cyst starts to excrete its contents and slowly decreases in size until it is completely gone. Continued use of Nioxin ensures that the oil flows naturally and the wen does not return.