Pilonidal Cyst

Overview of Pilonidal Cyst

Cysts are little pockets that are either fluid-filled sacs of debris and dead white blood cells or sac containing other substances. Cysts can grow on any part of the body, over or under the skin. Cysts are usually non-cancerous.

A pilonidal cyst-like any other cyst is a fluid-filled or air-filled sac. It is called pilonidal primarily because of its location i.e., in the crease of the buttocks. It is a skin infection that is not uncommon.

A pilonidal cyst is painful and needs to be treated. It can be acute or chronic. The stages of the pilonidal disease are as follows:

  • Not infected- cyst
  • Pus filled- abscess
  • Cyst and abscess combination- sinus

It is not a very serious condition but should be treated before it develops into an abscess. These cysts have ingrown hairs inside. In earlier days it was also called “Jeep Driver’s Disease”.

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Signs and Symptoms of Pilonidal Cyst

Following are the symptoms of pilonidal cyst:

  • Swollen, red area in between the buttocks
  • Pain while sitting down
  • Abscess in the buttocks with foul smell or pus

Types of Pilonidal Cyst

Causes of Pilonidal Cyst

Ingrown hairs are the root cause of the cyst. This cyst can be congenital or acquired. Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Excess hair in the region
  • Tailbone injury
  • Coarse or thick hair
  • Tight clothing
  • Family or personal history

Risk Factors of Pilonidal Cyst

However, the main reason behind the formation of the cyst is unclear. Here are some factors that might increase the risk of getting pilonidal cysts to include:

  • Having poor hygiene
  • Sitting for longer periods (i.e, truck driving)
  • Being Obese
  • Having ingrown hair
  • Having stiff and extremely thick hair

Health Complications Due to Pilonidal Cysts

A cyst is not life-threatening. However, a painful cyst can make it difficult for you to walk, stand or even sit. This results in interfering with your daily activities like driving and sitting in the office.

Cysts if left untreated for longer periods of time can increase the risk of systemic infections and even squamous cell carcinoma.



There are a number of ways to prevent pilonidal cysts. Some of which are as follows:

  • If you're overweight, try to lose and maintain healthy body weight.
  • Avoid sitting for too long, even if your job requires it. Avoid putting pressure on the affected area.
  • Wash your buttocks regularly to reduce the chances of pilonidal cysts.


No particular diagnostic tests are required. The doctor will take into account the personal and family history and a diagnosis will be given after the physical examination.

Treatment of Pilonidal Cyst | When to Consult a Doctor

The treatment plan for the pilonidal cyst is very simple.

  • Home Remedy

Soaking in a hot bath can calm the inflammation and draw out the infection. This will not be the right treatment in cases of an abscess.

  • Drainage

If an abscess is formed, the pus is drained and the wound is covered with sterile gauze.

  • Excision

The affected tissue is removed completely. This is a more long-term and beneficial treatment with less chance of recurrence.

  • Laser

Hair can be removed by laser therapy and reduce the chance of pilonidal cyst occurrence.

A chronic pilonidal cyst is very painful and can get worse and develop into a sinus. Pilonidal cysts can also disappear after a while on their own.