What Causes Pilonidal Cysts?

What Causes Pilonidal Cysts?

Pilonidal cysts may not get a lot of attention, but they’re not rare — and without proper diagnosis and treatment, they can cause serious infections. Located at the top of the tailbone (coccyx), pilonidal cysts can cause pain whether you’re moving around or sitting still, and if they get infected, that pain can be intense.

As a top-ranked colorectal specialist in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, provides state-of-the-art care for patients with pilonidal cysts and abscesses, relieving painful symptoms and preventing complications. Here’s what he wants you to know about these painful cysts.

Quick facts about pilonidal cysts

A pilonidal cyst is a pocket of fluid that forms at the base of your tailbone. These cysts typically form from ingrown hairs that get trapped beneath the skin’s surface. In fact, the term “pilonidal” literally means “hair nest.”

Pilonidal cysts tend to be more common among males and among younger people, and they’re especially common among people who spend a lot of time sitting for work or recreation or as a result of mobility issues. The pressure from prolonged sitting is more likely to force hair “backwards” as it grows, resulting in the ingrowth that eventually leads to cyst formation. 

Cysts are also more common among people who:

If these risk factors pertain to you, it’s important to be aware of any lumps or bumps that could indicate a cyst, along with painful symptoms that can occur as a cyst grows or an infection develops.

Treating pilonidal cysts

Even though they can become infected, pilonidal cysts can’t be treated with antibiotics alone. Instead, they need to be drained and cleaned. 

Dr. Tarlowe drains a pilonidal cyst by numbing the area with a local anesthetic, then making a tiny incision in the cyst. Next, he typically drains the pus and debris inside the cyst and packs it with gauze, leaving the wound open while it heals over the next few weeks. The approach he uses depends on your specific needs.

If you’re prone to pilonidal cysts, you can reduce the risk of recurrence by avoiding prolonged sitting, losing excess weight, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and being more active. 

Don’t delay treatment

Even if a pilonidal cyst isn’t causing painful symptoms, these cysts can easily become infected, causing serious complications that can affect your overall health and wellness. If you suspect you have a pilonidal cyst or any type of unusual growth, it’s important to have it evaluated right away.


To learn more about pilonidal cysts and their treatment, call 954-210-7127 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.

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