Pilonidal cysts can seem like an embarrassing problem. After all, they cause a painful bump or pimple near the tailbone in the crease of the buttocks. But there’s good news. These cysts are incredibly common and straightforward to treat. If anything, trying to ignore them can cause more harm than good — including chronic issues, intense discomfort, and painful abscesses.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, uses state-of-the-art approaches to treat pilonidal cysts at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas. In this blog, he explains more about what pilonidal cysts are, how they’re treated, and how you can avoid chronic problems.
Understanding pilonidal cysts
Finding a lump on your body can be alarming and even embarrassing, especially when it’s in the crease of your buttocks. However, these bumps aren’t contagious or life-threatening. Instead, they’re simply pockets filled with hair and dead skin cells.
In most cases, a pilonidal cyst develops because of an ingrown hair. When a hair becomes embedded in your skin, your immune system kicks into gear. Even though the hair is harmless and comes from your own body, your system sees it as a threat.
In response, your immune system forms a pocket around the hair that fills with fluid, which can lead to a number of symptoms, such as the following:
- Swelling or redness
- Fluid drainage, such as pus or blood
- A foul-smelling odor from the drainage
- Chills or fever
It’s also common to experience significant pain or tenderness in the area, especially when sitting.
Unfortunately, people often avoid treatment for pilonidal cysts because they feel too embarrassed to talk with their doctor. However, if ignored, these cysts can become a chronic issue. Plus, they can increase your chances of developing a certain type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.
Avoiding pilonidal cysts
More than 70,000 pilonidal cysts get reported each year. However, as mentioned above, these numbers could actually be much higher, because so many people are too embarrassed to seek treatment. Remember, seeking medical treatment is the best way to avoid getting chronic pilonidal cysts.
In addition to getting treatment for pilonidal cysts, you can also reduce your chances of getting them by understanding your risk factors and taking action. For example, the following factors can increase your risk of getting them:
- Having a sedentary job
- Being overweight
- Wearing tight clothing
- Having rough, thick, or a lot of body hair
If you recognize any of these risk factors, you can take action. For example, if you’re overweight, you can lose weight. Or, if you have a lot of hair around your buttocks, you can remove it.
Treating pilonidal cysts
We’ve mentioned that treating pilonidal cysts can help you avoid ongoing problems. But there’s another reason to talk with your doctor as soon as you notice a problem. That’s because treating this condition depends on the size and extent of the cyst. And, as you might imagine, treatments become more extensive with the severity of the cyst.
In the earliest stages, your pilonidal cyst could respond to a warm soak in the tub. However, as the condition advances, they often require drainage to ensure proper healing. During this procedure, Dr. deVilleneuve makes a small incision to remove trapped fluid and clean the area.
After draining and cleansing the site, Dr. deVilleneuve either packs the wound with sterile gauze or closes it with sutures. Depending on which option is best for your cyst, you can expect it to take 3-6 weeks to heal.
Could you have a pilonidal cyst? Get pain relief and avoid chronic problems by calling 972-525-0245 or booking an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.