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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 237
Rare benign cystic lesions on face: Apocrine hidrocystoma

1 Department of Skin and VD, Government Medical College, Latur, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Pathology, Government Medical College, Latur, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication1-Mar-2016

Correspondence Address:
Ajay Govindrao Ovhal
Department of Skin and VD, Government Medical College, Latur, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5154.177778

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How to cite this article:
Ovhal AG, Deshkulakarani SV, Abhange RS, Birare SD. Rare benign cystic lesions on face: Apocrine hidrocystoma. Indian J Dermatol 2016;61:237

How to cite this URL:
Ovhal AG, Deshkulakarani SV, Abhange RS, Birare SD. Rare benign cystic lesions on face: Apocrine hidrocystoma. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Sep 25];61:237. Available from:


A 65-year-old female presented to our Tertiary Care Centre with multiple mild itchy lesions on face since 2 years. The lesions started as few translucent, tiny, skin-colored elevated lesions which gradually increased in number and size involving symmetrical areas on the face. She had an exacerbation of lesions in summer. There was no history of similar lesions in her family.

On examination, the lesions were symmetrically arranged, multiple, papules, tense, skin colored, and shiny with cystic consistency over the nose, perinasal and periorbital areas [Figure 1]. Yellowish serous fluid oozed out of the lesion on pricking the lesion. Systemic examination revealed no abnormality. Various differential diagnoses including apocrine/eccrine hidrocystoma, syringoma, trichoepithelioma, and multiple basal cell carcinomas were considered.
Figure 1: (a) Clinical picture symmetrically arranged lesions on the face. (b) Multiple localized papules, tense, skin colored with cystic consistency

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Though multiple apocrine hidrocystoma (AH) types are rare, clinical diagnosis was done, and skin biopsy was sent for histopathological confirmation.

Histopathologically, the upper dermis has a large dilated cystic structure lined by apocrine type epithelium with papillary projections, covered by two layers of secretory cells [Figure 2]a. The innermost cells were columnar-shaped with eosinophilic cytoplasm with typical apical projections and decapitation secretion, periodic acid-Schiff-positive, and diastase-resistant granules [Figure 2]b. Below this cystic structure were seen several apocrine glands. The epidermis is normal and free of the dermal cyst. No inflammatory infiltrate is seen.
Figure 2: (a) The innermost cells are columnar-shaped with eosinophilic cytoplasm with typical apical projections (H and E, ×40). (b) The cytoplasm and decapitation secretion shows periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive and diastase-resistant granules with typical apical projections (PAS stain, ×40)

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The patient was counseled about recurrence of lesions and was asked to maintain a regular follow-up of 2 monthly visits for the first 1-year and thereafter with every 4 months visit for the next successive years. She was treated with radiofrequency ablation under topical anesthesia using lidocaine.

Hidrocystomas, which are rare, benign, adenomatous, cystic lesions of the skin, may be either eccrine or apocrine depending on their morphological differentiation. The apocrine glands are most frequently present in the axillae, groin, external auditory canal, eyelids, and on the nipple. AH are often found on the head especially periocular area, neck and trunk region.[1] They also are reported to occur on other regions having apocrine glands such as a penis, axilla, and perianal regions. AH (syndrome: Cysts of Moll's gland, sudoriferous cysts), present as translucent or semitransparent, round, skin-colored or bluish vesicles, cystic lesions, and contain a watery fluid. They are commonly presented as solitary cystic lesions but can be rarely multiple. They are prevalent in adults who are between 30 and 70 years of age, with a diameter of 3–15 mm.[2] Both sexes are equally affected.

The exact cause is unknown, but they are thought to be due to occlusion or blockage of the sweat duct apparatus, which results in the retention of sweat and a dilated cystic structure.[3] The lesions are benign and usually asymptomatic. The lesions grow slowly, usually persist indefinitely, and seldom recur after removal. No seasonal variation or familial tendencies have been identified. The diagnosis of this rare case multiple AH is though clinical yet biopsy aids in confirmation and differentiating it from other head and neck lesions [Table 1].
Table 1: Differential diagnosis of AH

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Multiple eyelid AH's are associated with an autosomal recessive syndrome, Schopf–Schulz–Passarge. It is characterized by palmoplantar hyperkeratosis, hypodontia, and hypotrichosis. AH may also be associated with X-linked dominant Goltz–Gorlin or focal dermal hypoplasia syndrome include microphthalmia; periocular multiple hidrocystomas; papillomas of the lip, tongue, anus, and axilla; skeleton abnormalities; and mental retardation.[4]

The treatment provided in this case using radiofrequency ablation of lesions under topical anesthesia with prilocaine and lidocaine proved superior to other methods due to its low scarring and recurrence rates. The most common approach to the treatment of AH is simple needle puncture. Multiple lesions of AH have been successfully treated with topical 1% atropine or scopolamine creams, although anticholinergic side effects could cause patients to discontinue the treatment.[4] Other methods that have shown success are carbon dioxide laser vaporization and laser treatment.[5] Treatment of cysts with trichloroacetic is technically simpler and much less time-consuming than surgical excision.[6]

Though few cases of multiple AH over the face are reported, its resemblance to many other appendageal benign and malignant tumors may be of help in diagnosis and management of the condition. As this condition, commonly presents on face recurrence of lesions were not found proving the management of this case using radiofrequency ablation superior to other methods of treatment.


Dr. Rajeev Joshi, Consultant Dermatopathologist, P D Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Singh V, Dhawan M, Narang T, Kaur R. Multiple eccrine hidrocystomas in a patient of sarcoidosis. Indian J Dermatol 2012;57:504.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Sehgal S, Agarwal R, Singh S, Goyal P. Fine-needle aspiration cytology of eccrine hidrocystoma. Cytojournal 2012;9:6.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Smith RJ, Kuo IC, Reviglio VE. Multiple apocrine hidrocystomas of the eyelids. Orbit 2012;31:140-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
Armstrong DK, Walsh MY, Corbett JR. Multiple facial eccrine hidrocystomas: Effective topical therapy with atropine. Br J Dermatol 1998;139:558-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ascherman JA, Knowles SL, Troutman KC. Extensive facial clefting in a patient with Goltz syndrome: Multidisciplinary treatment of a previously unreported association. Cleft Palate Craniofac J 2002;39:469-73.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dailey RA, Saulny SM, Tower RN. Treatment of multiple apocrine hidrocystomas with trichloroacetic acid. Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg 2005;21:148-50.  Back to cited text no. 6


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1]


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