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Pilonidal Cyst

Pilonidal cyst originates from the Latin word for “hair nest”.  However, pilonidal cyst refers to all type of skin disorder near the tailbone.  However, there are instances when the infection can occur in the navel or armpit, but this is rare.   Skin disorders caused by pilonidal cyst can be debilitating as movement becomes restricted because of the pain and swelling. 

The pilonidal cyst develops under the skin just above the buttocks.  The cyst becomes tender and painful to the touch, and swells and drains pus.  This skin disorder is common   among males in their teens, twenties, and early thirties.  The condition is associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.  

When the pilonidal cysts get infected, abscesses develop in the cavity or the hole.  The beginnings of a pilonidal cyst start with a red and swollen skin.  By this time, the cyst fills with pus that starts the infection.  The fluid that comes out of the hole may be varying from clear, cloudy, to bloody.  Infection can be immediately determined because the pus has a foul odor.  As the infection rises, fever and nausea will occur.  In all cases, the surrounding area will be red and tender and exquisitely pain to the touch.

There are no further medical tests conducted when doctors evaluate an infected pilonidal cyst.  It is a medical theory that a pilonidal cyst is present upon birth.  It becomes infected because of the intrusion of ingrown hair causing abscess to form.  Alternatively, an infection develops because of skin irritation.  In draining the pilonidal cyst, the presence of hair has been noted.  However, these causes are not yet conclusive.     

Antibiotics are the course of treatment for pilonidal cyst infection.  Surgery to remove the cyst is done when the infection has cleared.  If it is discovered that the cyst is not just a simple abscess but is draining fluid from sinus tract, the hole has to be closed.  The draining of the hole takes about 4 to 8 weeks.  For this duration, the patient’s caregiver replaces the gauze packing.  This is done daily and correctly.  When closing the hole, the edges of the hole are raised and stitched.  It would seem like a hidden pouch under the stitching.  It takes weeks before the pouch is finally stitched together – and only after the pus has been drained.  

In some cases, pilonidal cyst can be chronic even after surgery, while others never experience the discomfort again after surgical treatment.  Pilonidal cyst can be prevented.  Avoid tight clothing and sitting on hard surfaces for long periods.  After the surgery, do not take tub baths.  Wait until the gauze is removed.   Shave the area if your health professional advises it; and keep the area dry and clean at all times.   When the gauze is finally removed, apply a warm damp washcloth to relieve the pain.  Always clean the wound with mild unscented soap.