Understanding Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal cysts usually develop above the cleft of your buttocks at the base of your tailbone. These painful masses form when a hair punctures the skin and becomes embedded in the area. 

While pilonidal cysts usually aren’t life-threatening, they’re prone to infection. This can trigger a variety of symptoms, including:

Unfortunately, without proper treatment, pilonidal cysts can become a chronic problem that slightly increases your risks of developing squamous cell carcinoma — the second most common form of skin cancer

Our team at Wound Evolution - Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine specializes in proactive, advanced, and holistic approaches to wound care. Below, we share some information about pilonidal cysts and how we treat them.

Recognizing pilonidal cysts

In the earliest stages, you may barely notice a pilonidal cyst. They usually form near your tailbone. But in rare cases, they can occur in other parts of your body, like between your fingers.

Most of the time, pilonidal cysts start out small and painless, like a small pimple or dimple. But over time, they can increase in size and become more tender. Eventually, infection can set in. 

At this point, the pilonidal cyst becomes a swollen abscess, which is when additional symptoms occur, like foul-smelling pus, drainage, or blood.

The easiest way of avoiding persistent problems is to seek medical attention as soon as you detect a problem, especially if you’re at risk of developing pilonidal cysts.

Knowing your risks

Anyone can get a pilonidal cyst, but they’re most common in young men and those who sit for long periods, like professional drivers. This is likely because friction and pressure against the skin increase your chances of having loose hair penetrate the area. So, for example, wearing tight clothing or sitting can force hair into your skin.

Other factors that increase your chances of pilonidal cysts include:

Pilonidal cysts are also most common for people in their 20s.

Treating pilonidal cysts

Our team can typically diagnose pilonidal cysts during a visual exam of your lower back and tailbone. If we detect signs of infection, we might order further testing.

Most pilonidal cysts respond to in-office treatments. First, we usually numb the area with a local anesthetic so we can drain the abscess. If you have a severe or recurring pilonidal cyst, we could recommend a more extensive surgical procedure. 

Based on your treatment, we might choose to close your wound with stitches or leave it open and packed with a dressing. Leaving a wound open encourages healing from the inside out. This approach can take longer to heal, but it often reduces your chances of recurring problems. 

After treating your pilonidal cyst, we take steps to encourage and support the healing process of your wound. This part of the treatment process is essential to your recovery, and we provide detailed instructions every step of the way. 

As part of your wound care strategy, we might recommend innovative therapies, like bioengineered skin grafts or hyperbaric oxygen therapy

These targeted treatments expedite the healing process and prevent future complications, like recurring pilonidal cysts and chronic or infected wounds.

Are you ready to find relief from a pilonidal cyst? Contact one of our convenient locations in Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, Texas, or in Overland Park, Kansas, today.

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