(Pilonidal Sinus; Pilonidal Abscess)
DefinitionA pilonidal cyst is a fluid-filled developmental defect at the base of the spine.The terms cyst, sinus, and abscess refer to different stages of the disease process.
- Cyst—not infected
- Abscess—pocket of pus
- Sinus—opening between a cyst or other internal structure and the outside
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CausesA pilonidal cyst may be congenital or acquired. If congenital, it probably began as a defect that existed when you were born. Sometime later, the defect allowed an infection to develop. If acquired, it may be the enlargement of a simple hair follicle infection or the result of a hair penetrating the skin and causing an infection.
Risk FactorsThe following factors increase your chance of developing a pilonidal cyst:
- Personal or family history of similar problems such as acne boils, carbuncles, folliculitis, and sebaceous cysts
- Large amounts of hair in the region
- Tailbone injury
- Horseback riding, cycling
- Prolonged sitting
SymptomsA pilonidal cyst may cause:
- Painful swelling over your sacrum, which is the area just above your tailbone
- A foul smell or pus draining from that area
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a surgeon for treatment. There are no diagnostic tests required.
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