What is a Pilonidal Cyst?

A pilonidal cyst (sacrococcygeal fistula) is an abnormal pocket in the skin that usually locates itself above the buttocks near the tailbone. The cyst looks much like a pimple and commonly contains hair and skin debris.

Pilonidal cysts can vary in size and severity. In some cases, they may be small and painless, and may not require any treatment. However, when a cyst becomes infected, it can become swollen, tender, and filled with pus. The infection can spread to the surrounding skin, causing additional abscesses and pain which requires clinical attention. Even the pressure from sitting can become uncomfortable. If an infection ensues, you may develop flu-like symptoms, too. An infected pilonidal cyst is known for causing fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Pilonidal cysts were first described in 1833 by Herbert Mayo. The term pilonidal is derived from the Latin words “pilus” (hair) and “nidus” (nest). While pilonidal cysts occur more frequently in men than in women, they are also more common in people of Middle Eastern and Caucasian descent than in other racial groups. Pilonidal cysts are also more prevalent among young adults in their late teens, 20s and 30s.

Without proper treatment, a pilonidal cyst can become seriously infected and make you quite ill. Because of this, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of a pilonidal cyst and get started on treatment early on.

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