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Pilonidal Cyst

What is Pilonidal cyst disease? 

Pilonidal cyst disease is a chronic infection in the skin at the top of or next to the crease of the buttocks.  It may look like a small dimple (called a ‘pit’ or ‘sinus’).  Hair may protrude from the pit, and several pits may be seen. A Pilonidal cyst can be painful enough to make sitting or walking difficult, and in some cases pus may drain from the pit. 

What causes a Pilonidal cyst?

Pilonidal cyst forms when a hair follicle (the sac from which a hair grows) in the skin becomes irritated or stretched.  This may be due to activities that effects the buttocks area (such as horseback riding or cycling), tight clothing around the buttocks, heat, or extensive sweating.  The hair follicle becomes blocked and infected, then swells and ruptures into the surrounding tissue, forming an abscess. 

Incision and Drainage

In an incision and drainage procedure, the hair and pus are removed.  The sac that forms the cyst is not removed.  The wound is packed with gauze and generally heals within 4 to 8 weeks.  This procedure can be done in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia.  The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.


In an excision, the infected material is drained and the entire Pilonidal cyst is removed.  Because an excision is a complex procedure requiring a deeper cut than an incision and drainage, it is usually done at the hospital in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia.

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