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Pilonidal Disease

A pilonidal cyst is an accumulation of hair and skin debris that typically occurs at the base of the tailbone. These cysts become infected, filling with pus. In most cases, they resemble an enlarged pimple, though they can grow to become an enlarged mass. It is not uncommon for a hole or small tunnel to develop in the skin surrounding these cysts. These cavities are known as pilonidal sinuses, and they can make a person prone to recurrent infections. Also known as pilonidal disease, this condition almost always requires colorectal surgical treatment to fully resolve.

Did you know…

pilonidal disease was first ‘discovered’ and documented 1833? It took many decades before the condition was named. The term pilonidal is a derivative of two Latin terms; the first – pilus – meaning ‘hair’, and the second term – nidus – meaning ‘nest’. Today, doctors and researchers better understand this condition, which is most common between 15 to 30 years of age.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risk factors for developing pilonidal cysts?

Aside from being a young adult, other factors believed to increase the risk of pilonidal disease include obesity, coarse and stiff hair, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of the condition. People who wear tight clothing or participate in certain exercises like horseback riding or bike riding may also be prone to developing blocked hair follicles.

What are the symptoms of a pilonidal infection?

A pilonidal cyst is visible and palpable to the touch. It is normal for a cyst to drain blood, pus or even clear liquid, growing increasingly red and tender over time. An infection typically causes pus with a foul odor and is sometimes accompanied by fever.

How will a colorectal surgeon treat pilonidal disease?

Treatment for pilonidal disease usually includes draining an acute abscess. This process is quick and typically performed under local anesthesia in the comfort of your doctor’s office. For chronic conditions, surgery may be needed to excise the sinuses surrounding the cysts.

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