Pilonidal (say "py-luh-NY-dul") disease is a chronic skin infection in the crease between the buttocks. People with this condition have one or more cysts in that area that tend to get inflamed and infected. A pilonidal cyst may look like a small dimple (called
a "pit" or "sinus"). Hair may stick out from it.
See a picture of a pilonidal cyst.
Experts think pilonidal cysts may form in one of three ways:
Pilonidal disease often has
no symptoms. If a cyst gets infected (called an
abscess), you may have:
A physical exam of the buttocks is usually all doctors need to diagnose pilonidal disease. You probably won't need any other tests unless the area doesn't heal or your doctor thinks there may be another problem.
Mild cases may be managed by keeping the area free of hair, such as shaving the area once a month.
If the cyst gets infected or is a problem, your doctor may need to open and drain the cyst. This procedure can be done in your doctor's office. You may get antibiotics if the infection is severe. The cyst may take a month or more to heal.
You may need to have surgery (excision) to remove the cyst. Surgery may need to be done if:
Surgery may be done at an outpatient surgical center or hospital. It may take 6 weeks or longer to heal.
Cysts can come back after being drained. Surgery works better as a permanent cure.
While you are being treated for an infected cyst:
For cysts that are not causing symptoms or after you have had surgery to remove a cyst:
Learning about pilonidal disease:
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is the leading
professional society representing more than 1,000 board-certified colon and
rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to treating people with diseases
and disorders affecting the colon, rectum, and anus.
Other Works Consulted
Hull TL, Wu J (2002). Pilonidal disease.
Surgical Clinics of North America, 82:
Marcello PW (2010). Diseases of the anorectum. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2257–2274. Philadelphia: Saunders.
November 15, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& C. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery
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