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Feather Follicle Cysts

Feather follicle cysts are a type of cyst that has formed containing feather follicles packed with fluid, semisolid or gaseous material. They can develop in any tissue, but are most frequently found as hard nodules or lumps on or directly below the skin of the chicken.

What causes cysts?


Common causes of cysts in chickens include:
  • Damage to feathers
  • Genetic predisposition (such as the Silkie breed, due to their soft, downy feathers)
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • A defect in the cells
  • Blockages of ducts in the body which cause a fluid build-up
  • Parasites
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
If damage occurs on just one side of the follicle, it can cause asymmetric feather growth, in which it is not able to break through the skin. As a result, it will curl back within the follicle and fill with keratin, instead of producing a feather.

Treatments for cysts


The treatment for feather follicle cysts varies depending on it's location, size, and impact on the bird's comfort level.

Symptoms

Abnormal lumps on or directly below skin

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Ultrasound
  • CAT scan
  • Biopsy - Done to confirm whether it is cancerous.
  • Histopathology

Treatment

Surgery: Feather follicle cysts may need to be drained or surgically removed by a veterinarian. Cysts are drained or aspirated by insertion of a needle or catheter into the cavity.

Prevention

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • History of previous trauma to area
  • Malnutrition
  • Viral, bacterial or parasitic infection