6 Symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal cysts are caused by the build-up of hair and debris in the skin covering the tailbone. A sac forms after hair punctures the skin and becomes embedded in it. This results in an infection that can turn into a painful abscess. The conditions most commonly develops in young men and those who sit for extended periods of time, and it has a high tendency to recur. Obesity, course hair, an inactive lifestyle, and an excess of hair are also risk factors. Though the exact cause of pilonidal cysts is unclear, it is known that friction and pressure applied to loose hairs in the area plays a defining role. When the loose hair is forced down into the skin- due to prolonged periods of sitting, wearing tight clothing, and cycling, to name a few- the body responds as it would to a foreign substance, creating a cyst to surround the hair. Adopting a more active lifestyle, avoiding long periods of sitting, losing weight, and keeping the area clean and shaved are all effective ways to prevent their development. The cyst can be removed surgically or drained by creating a small incision. If left untreated or treated improperly, the cyst can increase the person’s risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms, consult a doctor for more information on treatment options and how to proceed.

1. Pain

Not all cysts will be painful, but pain is a large indicator of a more serious infection. Some pilonidal cysts are small and are do not progress into an abscess. However, when infected, a pilonidal cyst can swell, causing varying degrees of pain ranging from mild discomfort to the inability to sit. The location of the infection makes it particularly painful, especially for those whose job or physical disabilities require them to be seated more often. In addition to drainage or surgery undertaken by a medical professional, there are a few home remedies that alleviate some of the pain associated with the infection. Soaking in a warm epsom salt bath or applying a hot compress can help the fluid and pus to drain more quickly, relieving the pressure that causes pain and jumpstarting the healing process. Tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar have also been shown to reduce pain due to their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties, so applying them to the area regularly is a smart option. Apply aloe vera can also reduce swelling and pain when applied topically. Some other pain relief options come straight from the kitchen cabinet. Turmeric, raw garlic, and black tea all fight infection and also reduce painful swelling.