If you’ve noticed a strange swelling or bump in the top cleft of your buttocks, you could have a pilonidal cyst. These bumps form when a hair becomes embedded in the skin. Early on, they’re typically small and painless, but over time, they can become infected, inflamed, and quite painful.

Pilonidal cysts are a common problem, especially in young men, and more than 70,000 cases get reported each year. Unfortunately, many people find the problem embarrassing and wait to seek treatment until the cyst becomes extremely painful. 

At Wound Evolution - Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, our team can diagnose and treat this uncomfortable condition. And the earlier you get help, the faster you can find relief.

If you spend a lot of time sitting, here’s what you should know about pilonidal cysts.

Understanding the cause

Pilonidal cysts can affect anyone, and their exact cause isn’t known. But certain factors tend to increase your chances of developing this problem.

What we know about pilonidal cysts is that they’re usually the result of friction or pressure that causes loose hair to penetrate the skin. In response to this foreign invader, your immune system produces a cyst around the hair to protect your body from the perceived threat.

Based on this information, we know that certain factors can increase your chances of having this problem, such as:

  • Being a man, especially ages 20-35
  • Having excess, stiff, or coarse body hair
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Living an inactive lifestyle

Another leading cause of pilonidal cysts includes occupations that require long periods of sitting.

Signs of a pilonidal cyst

In most cases, you barely notice a pilonidal cyst because it’s usually small and painless, like a dimple or pimple. It may remain this way, but it can also grow larger and become increasingly tender as time goes on.

Common symptoms of a pilonidal cyst include:

  • Redness or irritation
  • Swelling
  • Pain that worsens with sitting
  • An abscess draining blood or pus
  • Foul-smelling drainage in the area
  • Nausea, fever, and extreme fatigue

Don't wait to schedule a visit if you notice any of these symptoms. Receiving a diagnosis as early as possible allows us to treat your condition before it progresses. 

Diagnosing and treating a pilonidal cyst

We can usually diagnose a pilonidal cyst by physically examining the site. But if there are signs of infection, we could also order blood tests to determine the extent of your condition.

In most cases, we treat pilonidal cysts during a quick office procedure. First, we numb the site so you don’t feel a thing. Then we make a small incision and drain the cyst. But if you have recurring problems with pilonidal cysts, we could recommend more extensive surgery. 

For chronic pilonidal cyst problems, we either leave the wound open and packed with dressings or close it with sutures after surgery. Leaving a wound open allows it to heal from the inside out, a process that takes longer but reduces your chances of recurring problems.

No matter how extensive your treatment, wound care is extremely important after your procedure. As wound care specialists, we provide detailed instructions on how to take care of the site, and we offer advanced solutions that support the healing process, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy and topical treatments with bioengineered skin grafts.

Whether you have a new pilonidal cyst or an ongoing problem, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Contact one of our four offices to schedule a visit by calling or booking online today. We have locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, Texas, as well as Overland Park, Kansas.

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