Pilonidal Cysts

What Is A Pilonidal Cyst?

Pilonidal cysts are pockets of skin in the crease of the buttocks, near the base of the coccyx (tailbone).  A term doctors often use to describe the range of problems that can arise in this area is pilonidal disease.  These cysts generally begin with ingrown hairs pushing into the skin, causing irritation and inflammation.  In simple cases, a single, small cyst-type point containing fluid appears without any accompanying infection.  There are other cases when there is a great deal of inflammation present as well as infection, creating what is called a pilonidal abscess.

The pilonidal cysts are generally not problematic unless there is an infection, although they may cause some discomfort.  Symptoms of these cysts or abscesses include swelling, pain and redness at the base of the spine.  If there is an abscess, a fever may also be present along with increased pain and redness.

It is generally thought that the pilonidal cysts are a reaction to trauma in the region which ultimately causes ingrown hairs, although when the cysts are opened, often the hair is found to be extraneous, rather than internal - having perhaps originated from outside the cyst.

Risk Factors

While pilonidal cysts are more common in men than in women, they are found on both genders.  Risk factors affecting susceptibility to developing pilonidal disease, or cysts, are found to be obesity, inactive lifestyle, sitting for long periods of time, large amounts of body hair, poor hygiene and sweating excessively.

It is advisable to see a physician if a pilonidal cysts presents on the body.  The physician can diagnose the condition by examining the area and prescribe the best course of action to bring healing to the body.  Sometimes complications can arise, and in the case of pilonidal cysts, the primary concern is infection.  When a pilonidal cyst becomes infected it is referred to as an abscess and is often very painful.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatments can include a series of antibiotics; incision and drainage or, as with more serious cases of multiple pilondial cysts or abscesses, surgery.  Care of the wound is important after surgery for an infected cyst.  Dressings must be changed and the area kept clean to ensure healing.

Prevention of pilondial cysts can be established by removing any hair from the area of the tailbone on a regular basis and keeping the area clean by washing with a glycerin soap and hot water.  Keeping the area dry and free from oils along with avoiding sitting for long periods are also helpful in keeping pilondial cysts under control.