Pilonidal Cyst

A pilonidal cyst is a fluid-filled developmental defect at the base of the spine. The terms cyst, sinus, and abscess refer to different stages of the disease process. While the cyst is not serious, it can become an infection and should therefore be treated. When a pilonidal cyst gets infected, it forms an abscess, eventually draining pus through a sinus. The abscess causes pain, a foul smell, and drainage. This condition is not serious. But, since it is an infection, it can enlarge and become uncomfortable. Therefore, it should be treated.

  • Causes

    A pilonidal cyst may be congenital or acquired. If congenital, it probably began as a defect that existed when you were born. Sometime later, the defect allowed an infection to develop. If acquired, it may be the enlargement of a simple hair follicle infection or the result of a hair penetrating the skin and causing an infection.

  • Definition

    A
    pilonidal cyst
    is a fluid-filled developmental defect at the base of the spine.

    The terms
    cyst,
    sinus,
    and
    abscess
    refer to different stages of the disease process.

    • Cyst—not infected
    • Abscess—pocket of pus
    • Sinus—opening between a cyst or other internal structure and the outside

    While the cyst is not serious, it can become an infection and should therefore be treated. When a pilonidal cyst gets infected, it forms an abscess, eventually draining pus through a sinus. The abscess causes pain, a foul smell, and drainage.

    This condition is not serious. But, since it is an infection, it can enlarge and become uncomfortable. Therefore, it should be treated.

    Pilonidal Cysts
    Pilonidal cyst
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be referred to a surgeon for treatment. There are no diagnostic tests required.

  • Prevention

    Here are ways to reduce your chance of getting a pilonidal abscess:

    • Keep the area clean and dry.
    • Avoid sitting for a long time on hard surfaces.
    • Remove hair from the area.

  • Risk Factors

    The following factors increase your chance of developing a pilonidal cyst:


    • Personal or family history of similar problems such as
      acne
      , boils, carbuncles, folliculitis,
      and
      sebaceous cysts
    • Large amounts of hair in the region
    • Tailbone injury
    • Horseback riding, cycling
    • Prolonged sitting
    • Obesity

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Painful swelling over your sacrum, which is the area just above your tailbone
    • A foul smell or pus draining from that area

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. The choice of treatment will depend on the extent of the condition and your general overall health. Treatment options include: