Pilonidal Cyst

What is a Pilonidal Cyst?

A Pilonidal Cyst is an abscess that occurs on the surface of the skin. It can also be considered a small pocket of debris. This debris is made up of skin and hair cells most often. Pilonidal cysts nearly always occur just at the bottom of the coccyx (the tailbone) or at the top of the cleft of the buttocks.

These pilonidal cysts can also become infected and fill with puss. When this happens, they may also be termed a pilonidal abscess although they are often still referred to as cysts in this state. The cause of a pilonidal cyst is often a hair growing back inward into the skin causing a great deal of irritation as the hair embeds into the skin.

Men are more prone to pilonidal cysts than women. However, anyone can get them. A person who works in a career field in which they sit for prolonged periods of time like drivers, office or call center employees, and the like may also be more likely to develop pilonidal cysts. When a person has developed a pilonidal cyst, they may be more likely to have the condition recur in the future as well.

What are the Symptoms of a Pilonidal Cyst?

A person with a pilonidal cyst may develop pain or swelling at the bottom of their tailbone. Redness in the area can also be a sign of this condition. A pimple-like growth occurs when the pilonidal cyst fills with pus and becomes infected. There may also be a visible hair that comes from the middle of the growth or lesion. Pilonidal cysts may drain pus, blood, or both and that discharge may have a foul odor as well.

How is a Pilonidal Cyst Treated?

If a pilonidal cyst is noticed before it fills with pus and becomes infected, the affected person may be able to just watch and wait to see if the cyst heals on its own. However, infected pilonidal cysts will likely need to be surgically opened (lanced or otherwise cut) and drained.

Depending on the circumstances, after the fact, the lesion may be packed with gauze and left open or it may be closed. If the doctor immediately closes the cyst, there is a higher chance of recurrence, but the wound packing and dressing will not need to be changed as frequently.

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Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 28, 2017