It’s not uncommon to get a painful pimple on your buttocks. But if you have a tender lump that forms at the very top of your buttock crease, it might not be a zit — it could be an infected pilonidal cyst.
At our practice in Coral Springs, Florida, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, uses effective techniques to treat pilonidal cysts, relieving painful symptoms and preventing them from coming back. If you think you have a pilonidal cyst, here’s how we can help you.
Pilonidal cysts: the basics
Cysts are small sacs that contain a combination of fluid, tissue, and biological debris. They can form anywhere in your body, including on or near organs and just below your skin’s surface.
Cysts that form at the base of your tailbone are called pilonidal cysts, and they usually contain skin debris and hair. When a pilonidal cyst becomes infected, it forms a painful, pus-filled abscess. Without medical treatment, the infection can spread and become very serious.
A pilonidal cyst starts when a hair grows into the skin, triggering an immune response that causes a cyst to form around the hair.
These cysts are more common among people who:
- Wear tight clothing
- Sit for long periods of time
- Are male
- Are younger
- Have coarse body hair or a lot of hair
- Are overweight
- Lead an inactive lifestyle
Some people have chronic or recurrent pilonidal cyst infections. This condition is called pilonidal disease, and it affects about 70,000 Americans every year.
Relieving painful pilonidal cysts
Cysts don’t respond to antibiotics. Instead, cysts need to be drained of the debris they contain so the area can heal.
Dr. Tarlowe offers a couple of options for treating infected pilonidal cysts.
Incision and drainage
After numbing the cyst and surrounding area with a local anesthetic, Dr. Tarlowe uses a scalpel to open the cyst and remove the debris it contains, including hair and hair follicles. After the cyst is cleaned, he leaves the wound open, packing the area with sterile gauze to keep it clean. The wound remains open for a few weeks while it heals.
Incision and drainage followed by excision
In some cases, Dr. Tarlowe may choose to excise the cyst a number of weeks after draining it. Most of the time, the wound will need to be left open. It requires daily dressing changes with gauze multiple times a day and can take 2-3 months to heal. However, in a few cases Dr. Tarlowe can close the wound. You won’t need to worry about changing the gauze during healing, but there is a higher risk that the cyst will return.
Don’t ignore a pilonidal cyst
Treating an infected pilonidal cyst as soon as possible reduces the risk of dangerous infections. To learn more about pilonidal cyst treatment at our Coral Springs practice, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tarlowe today.