What are pilonidal cysts?
A pilonidal cyst is an abnormal pocket in the skin, usually located near the tailbone at the top of the cleft of the buttocks, that contains hair and skin debris.
What causes pilonidal cysts?
Experts are not sure what exactly causes pilonidal cysts, but they appear to be caused by loose hairs that penetrate the skin. Friction and pressure force the hair down into skin, which responds to the hair as a foreign substance. Then the body creates a cyst around the hair.
Who is at risk for pilonidal cysts?
Risk factors for developing pilonidal cysts can include:
- Male sex
- Younger age
- Inactive lifestyle
- Occupation requiring prolonged sitting
- Excess body hair
- Stiff or coarse hair
What are the symptoms of pilonidal cysts?
Infected pilonidal cysts can cause:
- Reddening of the skin
- Drainage of pus or blood from an opening in the skin
- Foul smell from draining pus
How are pilonidal cysts treated?
Pilonidal cysts can be drained through a small incision or removed surgically.
What are the possible complications of pilonidal cysts?
When pilonidal cysts become infected, they can result in an abscess that is often extremely painful.
If a chronically infected pilonidal cyst isn’t treated properly, you might be at slightly increased risk of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
- Pilonidal cyst. (2018). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pilonidal-cyst/symptoms-causes/syc-20376329