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Pilonidal Cyst: Pertinent Information Regarding This Medical Condition

Among the various types of cysts is the pilonidal cyst. This medical condition is caused by a blockage of hair follicles and although usually non-life threatening, it is quite bothersome to the individuals who have this condition. The following paragraphs will describe in detail various aspects of the pilonidal cyst as well as treatments for a cyst of this nature.

Pilonidal Cyst: What It Is

A pilonidal cyst is basically a growth under the skin which is comprised of a fluid-like substance and hairs. It is usually found in the upper portion of the crevice of the buttocks and occurs in both men and women. Although described as a cyst, the pilonidal condition is actually an abscess which consists of pus and infected areas below the skin.

Who Is Mainly Affected by Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal cysts occur in both of the genders although men experience this medical condition more often than women. As for race, pilonidal cysts rarely occur in individuals who are of the African American or Asian races. With regard to the age of individuals inflicted with pilonidal cysts, the people who most often have to deal with a condition of this type are those individuals between the ages of 16 and 26.

Symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts

As with most medical conditions, individual people have individual symptoms. The main telltale sign which seems to point towards a pilonidal cyst is a lump in the tailbone area. This lump comes in a variety of sizes and may even reach golf ball size. Many of the additional cited symptoms which go along with the existence of pilonidal cysts include pain in the tailbone area (either mediocre or great), pain in the tailbone area only when sitting down and/or drainage in the area of the cyst. Should the pilonidal cyst become infected, other symptoms may occur including inflammation, itching and an abnormal discharge from the sinus area (the opening in the middle) of the cyst. Individuals who have one or more of these symptoms should visit their doctor immediately in order to get a firm diagnosis as to their condition.

Pilonidal Cyst Diagnosis

The individual with the pilonidal cyst is usually diagnosed after seeing a lump appear and going to their doctor in order to find out what it is. The doctor should be able to diagnose the pilonidal cyst simply after performing a physical examination. The cyst can also be seen on a high resolution MRI.

Treatment for the Pilonidal Cyst

There are a few different treatment options with regard to a pilonidal cyst. As these cysts are ones which rarely go away on their own, considering treatment options is a step in the right direction for those individuals who suffer from this medical condition. The first type of treatment which doctors may recommend to try and eliminate the pilonidal cyst is lancing. Lancing is a procedure where the doctor will put a small incision in the cyst to drain out the fluid and/or hair within the area. The wound is left to heal, which takes a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, lancing is only successful in permanently removing a pilonidal cyst less than half of the time.

A more intensive surgical option when it comes to getting rid of the pilonidal cyst is excision. Excision is where the medical health professional will remove the entire cyst and all of the outer surrounding tissues as well. This is done so as to adequately prevent the cyst from returning to the individual.

Another technique which has recently started being used in order to treat pilonidal cysts is a procedure whereby the cyst is brushed out and the pits are removed yet the deep tissue area remains intact. This is a less extreme type of procedure than the entire excision procedure.

If an individual looking to get rid of a pilonidal cyst is going to go about it via the surgical route, a colon and rectal surgeon will most likely be the medical professional who performs the surgery, along with an anesthesiologist as sedation is necessary for a surgery of this type to be performed. Some of the possible questions one may wish to ask their colon and rectal surgeon once they have established one may include any conservative treatments the surgeon may know of that can be considered instead of surgery, differences between the healing processes (which will be discussed later), rate of success regarding recurrence and infection, overall recovery time and any side effects that may result due to surgery.

Recovering From a Pilonidal Cyst Procedure

Once the cyst removal procedure has been completed, there are two alternative healing phases. One is known as the open wound healing and the other is called the closed wound healing. The open healing technique is where the wound is not stitched closed. This takes a bit of work by having to pack the wound twice a day for the entire 8 weeks of recovery time; however, this healing technique is beneficial in that the likelihood of recurrence or infection is lower. With the closed healing process, the wound is stitched closed and the wound itself heals within about 4 weeks; however, the rate of infection is about 20%. There have been new developments with regard to closed healing however which enable the wound to be flushed with an antiseptic to make it more unlikely that infection will occur.


Pilonidal cysts are ones which are particularly troublesome to those who have them. Not only are they burdensome and painful at times, but they may also be unsightly as well. For these reasons, individuals who have experienced cysts of this type need to know the options which are available to them and choose a treatment which will best serve their needs. It is best for people who have pilonidal cysts to consider all options and choose the one treatment option which they are most comfortable with. Once the cyst is removed, the individual can feel better about themselves and go on to live a pain-free life in that regard.

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