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Definition

What is pilonidal cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is a condition characterized by an abnormal pocket in the skin that usually contains hair and skin debris. A pilonidal cyst is almost always located near the tailbone at the top of the cleft of the buttocks.

Pilonidal cysts usually occur when hair punctures the skin and then becomes embedded. If a pilonidal cyst becomes infected, the resulting abscess is often extremely painful. The cyst can be drained through a small incision or removed surgically.

People who sit a lot, such as truck drivers, have a higher chance of getting this disease.

How common is pilonidal cyst?

Pilonidal cysts most commonly occur in young men, and the problem has a tendency to recur. People who sit for prolonged periods of time, such as truck drivers, are at higher risk of developing a pilonidal cyst

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of pilonidal cyst?

As it becomes infected, a pilonidal cyst gets a swollen mass (abscess). Some common signs and symptoms of an infected pilonidal cyst include:

  • Pain
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Drainage of pus or blood from an opening in the skin
  • Foul smell from draining pus

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes pilonidal cyst?

Actually, the exact cause of pilonidal cysts still isn’t unknown. Most doctors think that ingrown hairs are the reason for many of them. Pilonidal means “nest of hair,” and doctors sometimes find hair follicles inside the cyst. But most pilonidal cysts appear to be caused by loose hairs that penetrate the skin. Friction and pressure, skin rubbing against skin, tight clothing, bicycling, long periods of sitting or similar factors, force the hair down into skin. Responding to the hair as a foreign substance, the body creates a cyst around the hair.

This explanation is responsible for rare cases of pilonidal cysts that occur in parts of the body other than near the tailbone. For example, barbers, dog groomers and sheep shearers have developed pilonidal cysts in the skin between fingers.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for pilonidal cyst?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Male sex
  • Younger age (pilonidal cysts are most common in people in their 20s)
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Occupation requiring prolonged sitting
  • Excess body hair
  • Stiff or coarse hair

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is pilonidal cyst diagnosed?

Depending on what signs and symptoms that you experience, your doctor can diagnose pilonidal cyst. You may not have any noticeable symptoms at first other than a small, dimple-like depression on the surface of your skin. However, once the depression becomes infected, it will quickly develop into a cyst (a closed sac filled with fluid) or an abscess (a swollen and inflamed tissue where pus collects).

However, your doctor will ask you some question about:

  • Pain when sitting or standing
  • Swelling of the cyst
  • Reddened, sore skin around the area
  • Pus or blood draining from the abscess, causing a foul odor
  • Hair protruding from the lesion
  • Formation of more than one sinus tract, or holes in the skin
  • A low-grade fever

How is pilonidal cyst treated?

The initial treatment for an infected pilonidal cyst is commonly a procedure that can be performed in your doctor’s office. After numbing the area with an injection, your doctor makes a small incision to drain the cyst. If the cyst recurs, which often happens, you may need a more extensive surgical procedure that removes the cyst entirely.

After surgery, your doctor may choose to:

  • Leave the wound open

In this option, the surgical wound is left open and packed with dressing to allow it to heal from the inside out. This process results in a longer healing time but usually a lower risk of a recurring pilonidal cyst infection.

  • Close the wound with stitches

While the healing time is shorter with this option, there’s a greater risk of recurrence. Some surgeons make the incision to the side of the cleft of the buttocks, where healing is particularly difficult.

Wound care is extremely important after surgery. Your doctor or nurse will give you detailed instructions on how to change dressings, what to expect of a normal healing process and when to call the doctor. You may also need to shave around the surgical site to prevent hairs from entering the wound.

 

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pilonidal cyst?

Following these steps is able to help you prevent pilonidal cyst:

  • Keep the area clean
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Avoid prolonged sitting

If you’ve had pilonidal cysts in the past, you might want to regularly shave the area or use hair removal products to reduce the risk of recurrence

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 7, 2017 | Last Modified: July 7, 2017

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