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Mar 15, 2024

What You Need to Know About Pilonidal Cysts

A pilonidal cyst is a relatively common but painful condition that can affect individuals of all ages. It is a cyst that forms at the base of the tailbone (coccyx) or in the crease between the buttocks. Pilonidal cysts can manifest in various ways, and symptoms

A pilonidal cyst is a relatively common but painful condition that can affect individuals of all ages. It is a cyst that forms at the base of the tailbone (coccyx) or in the crease between the buttocks. Though it may start small and innocuous, if left untreated, it can become infected and develop into a more serious abscess. 

The exact cause of pilonidal cysts is not entirely clear, but they are believed to be caused by ingrown hairs, debris, and skin irritation. When hair follicles become blocked in the area between the buttocks, it creates an environment conducive to cyst formation. Certain factors may increase the risk of developing a pilonidal cyst. People who sit for prolonged periods, such as individuals with desk jobs or those who drive for long hours, are more susceptible to pilonidal cysts due to increased pressure on the tailbone area. Excess body weight can lead to more sweating and friction in the buttock area, promoting cyst formation. A family history of pilonidal cysts may predispose an individual to develop the condition. Individuals with a lot of body hair or thick, coarse hair are more likely to experience ingrown hairs in the affected area.

Pilonidal cysts can manifest in various ways, and symptoms may include:

Pain: Pain around the tailbone area is one of the earliest signs. Initially, it might be mild, but as the cyst grows or becomes infected, the pain can intensify and make sitting or even walking uncomfortable.

Swelling and Redness: The area around the cyst may become swollen, tender, and red.

Drainage: In some cases, the cyst might develop a small opening through which pus or blood may drain.

Foul Smell: If the cyst becomes infected, it can emit a foul-smelling discharge.

A pilonidal cyst can usually be diagnosed through a physical examination of the affected area by a healthcare professional. In some cases, imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI may be conducted to determine the extent of the cyst or if there are abscesses.

The treatment for pilonidal cysts varies depending on the severity of the condition. For small, uncomplicated cysts, home remedies and self-care measures may be sufficient. These include warm compresses, keeping the area clean, and avoiding prolonged sitting. However, if the cyst becomes infected or is causing significant discomfort, medical intervention becomes necessary. In such cases, treatments may include:

Incision and Drainage: A healthcare professional may make a small incision to drain the cyst and relieve pain and pressure.

Antibiotics: If there is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the bacterial growth.

Surgical Removal: In cases of recurrent or persistent cysts, surgical removal may be recommended. There are different surgical techniques available, including excision, laser ablation, and open wound healing methods.

While it may not always be possible to prevent pilonidal cysts, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing them. These include: keeping the area clean and dry can help prevent skin irritation and infection. Avoid Prolonged Sitting for extended periods, taking breaks and walking around regularly to reduce pressure on the tailbone area. Proper hair removal from the buttock area, consider professional waxing or laser hair removal to minimize the risk of ingrown hairs. Maintain a Healthy Weight,  adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing weight can help reduce sweating and friction in the buttock area.

Pilonidal cysts can be a painful and bothersome condition, but with proper care and treatment, they can be effectively managed. If you suspect you have a pilonidal cyst or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.