It’s hard to confuse the signs of a pilonidal cyst with another problem. That’s because they always form in the crease of the buttocks near the tailbone. They can also cause intense discomfort.
Pilonidal cysts are fairly common, especially in young men. However, embarrassment over the condition often prevents people from getting the care they need to avoid ongoing problems.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, FACS, of Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, treats pilonidal cysts with state-of-the-art techniques. If you have persistent issues with these common cysts, here’s how he can help.
The problem with pilonidal cysts
A pilonidal cyst starts from a tiny issue — a hair.
All it takes is a single hair to puncture the skin near the tailbone and get embedded in place. At this point, you won’t even notice it’s there, but your body will. Your body will start to form a cyst around the hair to try to force it out.
It’s possible to have a pilonidal cyst without any symptoms. However, they often become infected. If this occurs, the area can become swollen and painful.
Additional signs of infection can include:
- Inflamed skin
- Fluid leaking from the area, including pus or blood
- Odor from draining fluid
- A pit near the tailbone
Without effective treatment, a pilonidal cyst can continue getting infected over and over again, leading to chronic problems. While they may not be life-threatening, recurring issues can increase your chances of developing squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.
How to avoid pilonidal cysts
Several factors can put you at risk of them forming, such as being overweight, sitting for long periods, and having thick, coarse body hair.
So, if you’ve had a pilonidal cyst, you can help avoid developing a chronic problem by taking preventive measures, such as:
- Washing the area regularly
- Practicing healthy weight management
- Not sitting for long periods
- Avoiding tight clothing that rubs or irritates the skin
However, you also have to treat an existing pilonidal cyst to eliminate the infection. Depending on the size and severity of your cyst, that could mean surgery.
Treating pilonidal cysts
While a mild cyst often responds to soaking in a warm tub, more advanced ones typically require drainage to ensure optimal results. If the cysts persist after simple drainage, then a more involved excision will often be needed.
If the cyst is actively abscessed, the recommended treatment is a simple drainage procedure. This involves cutting into the cyst itself and then draining all signs of active infection. This is done in the operating room with the benefit of anesthesia, as even though this is a very simple procedure, it is still oftentimes very painful.
When a more involved excision is indicated, this too is an outpatient surgery where you will go home immediately after your procedure. The area where the cyst and all sinuses are will be completely removed and the incision sutured closed over a drain. The drain will usually stay in place for 3-4 weeks depending on the patient and the severity of disease. It is only in very rare instances that the incision will need to remain open unless there was an active abscess involved. This eliminates the need for ongoing wound care/packing with gauze.
As part of treatment, Dr. deVilleneuve can also provide personalized recommendations on how to avoid ongoing issues.
Do you have a chronic pilonidal cyst? Find out about your treatment options and how you can avoid ongoing problems by calling 972-525-0245 or booking an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.