What Is A Pilonidal Cyst?
A pilonidal cyst is a skin infection that is not fully understood, though many researchers believe this condition is caused by ingrown hairs. They are not contagious. Pilonidal cysts are common in the 20-40 year age group, with statistics showing more than 70,000 cases are reported in the U.S. each year! That is to say, they are very common and nothing to be embarrassed about. Pilonidal cysts can be painful, a nuisance, and are, for lack of a better phrase, not fun. If you are currently suffering the pain, contact pilonidal cyst doctor from Pilonidal Expert right away. However, having a general understanding of what pilonidal cysts look like, how they form, what to expect, what precautions to take, what treatments are available, and what pilonidal cyst surgery can ease any worry. So, let us jump into it.
What is a pilonidal cyst and why do they form?
What is a pilonidal cyst? A pilonidal cyst –also referred to as a pilonidal sinus or pilonidal disease– is a round sack of tissue that forms under the skin that can contain air, fluid, hair, and skin debris. Pilonidal cysts typically form near the crease of the buttocks, though are likely to be found in high-friction or high-pressure areas of the body.
There isn’t one thing that causes pilonidal cyst infection, nevertheless they are closely related to ingrown hairs, as these cysts tend to occur when hair becomes embedded under the skin due to friction and pressure. The body recognizes the hair as a foreign substance and forms a cyst around it to protect itself, developing what is called a pilonidal cyst.
It is a more common infection in young men going through puberty, though pilonidal cysts do affect anyone. In WWII, many referred to pilonidal disease as the “Jeep Driver’s Infection” since it is a frequent skin condition in people who sit often. Therefore, professionals who are required to sit for prolonged periods of time, such as truck drivers, bicyclists, desk jobs, etc, are more prone to pilonidal cysts. As suggested by statistics, people who have been diagnosed as obese or overweight, live inactive or unhygienic lifestyles, and have thick or coarse body hair are at higher risk for developing this skin infection.
You might be wondering, “are pilonidal cysts hereditary?” The likelihood of getting pilonidal cysts can in fact be hereditary, but specifically to if you’ve inherited tough, coarse hair follicles or are naturally hairy.
What does a pilonidal cyst look like?
If you have a pilonidal cyst you will know by the look of it. When infected, a pilonidal cyst is a swollen mass, generally located at the crease of the buttocks, but can range anywhere from the tailbone to the anus. It is common for the sack to contain pus and blood, to be tender to the touch, and to look red; it is not uncommon for there to be more than one cyst in the same area.
Consult a medical provider if you are experiencing signs of an infection. An infection can cause pain, fever and nausea, reddening of the skin, and pus and blood drainage with a foul odor.
How serious are pilonidal cysts and can they go away on their own?
Pilonidal cysts are not life-threatening but can affect one’s day-to-day routine as they are quite painful. Because they are typically found located at the top of the buttocks, sitting or applying any sort of pressure to the area can cause pain and discomfort.
If mild, while not definitive, there are some at-home remedies and practices that may help alleviate the pain and size of a pilonidal cyst:
Over-the-counter pain medication
Keeping the area dry throughout the day
A daily sitz bath or soak area in a shallow tub
Topical products/creams (consult a medical professional)
Maintaining good hygiene is the best first step in treating and also preventing pilonidal cysts. If you are showing symptoms of a pilonidal cyst, keeping the area clean and dry is crucial; regularly changing your clothes can help keep the area fresh and not aggravate the skin. Take daily showers and change clothing regularly if you tend to be sweaty or wear tight clothing. While in the shower, make sure to clean the affected area by gently washing it with soap; after your rinse, dry the area thoroughly before dressing and try to keep it clean and dry throughout the day. Good hygiene is a great way to battle recurrent pilonidal cysts, and is just great day to day practice for your overall health.
Initial treatment of an infected cyst involves draining the infection. Some patients are successful at getting the cyst to drain on its own without needed physician intervention. Draining the cyst typically provides instant relief.
After some at-home care and time, your pilonidal cysts might seem less inflamed or start to feel better to the point where it is no longer noticeable. That is great, but that does not mean the cyst no longer exists. The sack or sinus remains under the skin, meaning the possibility of having a flare-up still hangs in the air. Pilonidal cysts do not go away on their own. At-home remedies alleviate the symptoms of a pilonidal cysts, but surgical intervention is the only way to guarantee the cysts will not return. If not met with proper treatment, pilonidal cysts are likely to come back and can become a chronic issue.
Some best practices to keep the cyst from recurring include:
Keep the area clean and shaven
Lose weight if suggested by your provider
Wear loose-fitting clothing
Pilonidal cyst treatment
Be ready to answer variations of the following questions:
When did your symptoms begin?
Has this been a recurring issue?
Has anything proven to worsen or improve your symptoms?
What is your pain level from 1-10?
During your initial visit, your medical provider will generally start by asking a few questions about your symptoms, pain level, and concerns. To diagnose the cyst, your medical provider will conduct a full physical examination, and will check your bum area for signs of a skin infection. If you have a pilonidal cyst infection, it will be clear from the look of the bulge.
There are multiple treatments your physician can take in treating your skin infection, depending on the severity and stage of the pilonidal cyst. If your medical provider determines your case as mild, a phenol injection can be administered as it has proven to treat, prevent, and limit the infection of a pilonidal cyst.
If a cyst is actively infected, the initial treatment is drainage, which treats the infection, but does not treat the cyst. The drainage is only a temporary solution for the infection. Through this procedure, your medical provider will likely numb the area with an injection, then make small incisions, allowing the cyst to drain itself of the puss, blood, air, or hair (all commonly found in these types of cysts).
In conjunction with the drainage procedure, many medical providers may also prescribe antibiotics for the infection, though recent data has demonstrated that with proper drainage antibiotics are not necessary and provide no added benefit. After your procedure your healthcare provider will discuss the wound after care. It is imperative that you follow the instructions and ask for clarification whenever necessary.
Chronic pilonidal cysts
While draining the pilonidal cyst treats the present issue and offers quick symptomatic relief, there is always the possibility of the skin infection returning. Effective ways to treat this type of skin infection are through formal procedures which range from minimally invasive office procedures to full-excisions. If you are experiencing chronic pilonidal cyst, speak with a medical professional and discuss what options are available to you.
For help with What Is A Pilonidal Cyst, please contact Dr. Allen Kamrava today!
Dr. Kamrava is a colorectal surgeon offering noninvasive pilonidal cyst surgery, fast treatment with no downtime, and home remedies for other colorectal conditions. Dr. Allen Kamrava is a top doctor for pilonidal cyst as well as a Board-certified surgeon in general and colorectal surgery. With years of experience, Dr. Kamrava has helped his patients with colon cancer, hemorrhoids, pilonidal cyst, anal fissures, and much more colorectal diseases. Dr. Kamrava is dedicated to his patients for the most up-to-date treatment modalities, compassionate care, and most importantly life-changing results.
If you are currently suffering from any colorectal conditions. Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Allen Kamrava or contact us at (424)279-8222 , to relieve your pain with Pilonidal Cyst.