June 24, 2024

A pilonidal cyst is a spherical sac of tissue that contains liquid or air. This common type of cyst is usually caused by a skin infection and is found in the buttock crease. More than 70,000 cases of pilonidal cysts are documented in the United States each year, making them a prevalent ailment.

Pilonidal Cyst


What is a pilonidal cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is a spherical sac of tissue that contains liquid or air. This common type of cyst is usually caused by a skin infection and is found in the buttock crease. More than 70,000 cases of pilonidal cysts are documented in the United States each year, making them a prevalent ailment. However, a lot of people are too ashamed to bring it up, not even with their medical professionals.

Pilonidal cysts are painful lesions that require medical attention. Pilonidal cysts can be either acute, or they can be chronic, or they can keep coming back. Chronic pilonidal cysts can also result in sinus cavities (empty spaces beneath the skin) and abscesses (swollen pockets of infection) if left untreated.

A pilonidal cyst is a skin ailment that can occur anywhere in the buttock crease, from the tailbone to the anus. It is also referred to as pilonidal cyst disease, intergluteal pilonidal illness, or pilonidal sinus. It can be very painful to have a pilonidal cyst, especially when sitting.

Usually, hairs frequently reside inside these cysts, which are typically the result of a skin infection. Because they are more common in those who sit a lot, pilonidal cysts were dubbed “Jeep driver’s disease” during World War II.

Who can get a pilonidal cyst?

A pilonidal cyst can affect anyone, however, some people are more susceptible than others:

1. Men (compared to women, men have a three to four times higher more likely for diagnosed pilonidal cysts).
2. Those who have reached puberty and age 40 years old (the average is between age 20 and 35).
3. Workers who sit full day (such as office and truck drivers).
4. Those who are obese or overweight.
5. Individuals who have coarse or dense body hair (this can occur in families).
6. Individuals who dress too tightly (this can exacerbate the skin issue).

Is a pilonidal cyst hereditary?

A pilonidal cyst may occasionally be inherited (inherited from a family member). Your risk of developing pilonidal cysts may be influenced by your family history, such as if rough body hair runs in your family.

Is a pilonidal cyst contagious?

Similar to a pimple, a pilonidal cyst is a non-contagious skin ailment that you cannot transfer. Many studies now think that ingrown hairs are the cause of pilonidal cysts.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes a pilonidal cyst?

The entire list of pilonidal cyst causes is still don’t yet to experts. They are aware, nevertheless, that ingrown hairs in the buttock crease can lead to a skin infection and the formation of a pilonidal cyst. This issue can be compared to having an ingrown hair instead of a sliver of wood caught in your skin.

A pilonidal cyst may cause a sinus cavity or an abscess if left untreated. Both of those indicate that the skin infection is becoming more severe.

What are the symptoms of a pilonidal cyst?

Get medical attention right away if you encounter any of the following symptoms:

1. A pain that frequently worsens while seated.
2. A big swelling region or tiny indentation in the space between your buttocks. Usually, this is a pilonidal cyst. The area may seem red and painful to the touch.
3. An abscess that is dripping blood or pus. This liquid might smell bad.
4. Feeling extremely exhausted, feverish, and fatigued.

Can a pilonidal cyst develop in a pregnant woman?

Pregnant women can have pilonidal cysts, despite the fact that men are more likely to obtain them. If you’re feeling pain in your buttocks, it might indicate a pilonidal cyst rather than just typical pregnant discomfort. In such a situation, it’s usually recommended to get in touch with your provider and get checked.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a pilonidal cyst diagnosed?

First, Your provider will start by giving you a full physical examination. They will look for indications of a pilonidal cyst in the crease of your buttocks during the examination.

A pilonidal cyst should be apparent to the unaided eye if you have one. Your doctor may notice something that appears to be an oozing cyst or zit. If so, they might also interrogate you on a number of topics, such as:

1. Has the appearance of the cyst changed?
2. Is it draining any fluid?
3. Exist any more symptoms for you?

Very rarely, your doctor might request an MRI or CT scan to check for any sinus cavities—small holes—that might have developed beneath the skin’s surface.

Management and Treatment

How is a pilonidal cyst treated?

You’ll be given a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs if you’re diagnosed with one or more pilonidal cysts. The following questions will determine how this treatment is administered:

1. Have you previously had a pilonidal cyst?
2. Have you experienced any other skin conditions in the same location, such as a sinus infection or abscess?
3. How quickly are you recovering?

Your chances of requiring surgery to remove your pilonidal cyst depend on how severe your symptoms are. In addition to surgery, there are various other treatment options available, such as:

1. Draining the cyst: This process can take place in the office of your provider. Your infected cyst will be opened, and fluid will be drained, using a little incision.
2. Injections: Mild to moderate pilonidal cysts can be treated and prevented using injections of phenol, an acidic chemical molecule.
3. Antibiotics: Skin irritation is treatable with antibiotics. But by themselves, antibiotics are unable to treat pilonidal cysts.
4. Laser therapy: Hair that may otherwise develop ingrown and lead to new pilonidal cysts reoccurring can be removed with laser therapy.

You can attempt to alleviate any discomfort you may have by applying a warm compress to the afflicted area to calm your skin while you wait for your therapy. Another benefit of using an inflated mattress or seat could be less pain.

Will I need surgery for a pilonidal cyst?

A severe situation where a persistent pilonidal cyst has grown larger and created a sinus cavity beneath your skin may require surgery to completely remove the cyst. Following that, the surgeon may choose to either close the incision with sutures or a skin flap (skin removed from a healthy area of your body) or leave it open for packing.

It’s critical to properly care for your wound following surgery to prevent infection. Your healthcare professional will advise you on how to clean your wound, including how long to leave it covered and (how to shave the affected area). They will also advise you when to contact your provider and the warning indications of an infection.

Can a pilonidal cyst go away on its own?

Sometimes pilonidal cysts drain and go away by themselves. Over time, your symptoms related to chronic pilonidal cysts may come and go.

Can a pilonidal cyst be cured?

Surgery may be able to remove pilonidal cysts, and your skin may recover completely. A pilonidal cyst, however, may continue to be a chronic, recurrent problem even after surgery. This is particularly true if pilonidal cysts run in your family or if the illness has gotten worse.


How can pilonidal cysts be prevented?

You can take a few precautions to either help avoid developing pilonidal cysts or to stop them from returning. These actions consist of:

1. Washing and drying your buttocks on a regular basis (to keep the area clean).
2. If you are overweight now, reduce your weight to reduce your risk.
3. If your job permits, try to avoid prolonged sitting to relieve pressure on the affected area.
4. Shaving the area surrounding your buttocks (at least once a week). To prevent ingrown hairs, you can also consider utilizing a hair removal product.

Outlook / Prognosis
Is a pilonidal cyst fatal?

By itself, a pilonidal cyst is not lethal. Apart from the discomfort it may cause, a cyst might potentially result in a number of long-term health problems. Among these health risks are:

1. The same region (or another, usually in the crease of your buttocks) may see the formation of one or more recurrent cysts. You will have persistent pilonidal illness if your cyst recurs.
2. Systemic infection, or the spread of an illness across the entire body. An illness affecting the entire body can quickly prove fatal.
3. Cancer (most especially, SCC, or squamous cell carcinoma). Rarely does a pilonidal cyst induce SCC. Nonetheless, developing a pilonidal cyst might occasionally result in this kind of skin cancer. In most cases, if your doctor diagnoses you with a pilonidal cyst, they will collect a pus sample and perform additional testing to confirm the diagnosis is not cancerous.

If you experience any pilonidal cyst symptoms, make sure to consult your physician.

If I have a pilonidal cyst, do I have to miss work?

If you have a pilonidal cyst, you may need to take time off work depending on your symptoms. This ailment can be extremely uncomfortable, particularly if you spend a lot of time sitting down. Speak with your doctor about treatments to ease any pain brought on by a pilonidal cyst as well as strategies to make your workplace more pleasant.

A note from Blogjug

A pilonidal cyst itself is not life-threatening, but if you delay seeking treatment, it may become more challenging to manage and develop into a chronic illness. For this reason, it’s critical to schedule an examination as soon as you notice any pilonidal cyst symptoms. Always be open about all of your symptoms and worries with your healthcare professional at all times.

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