Pilonidal Cyst What The Heck Is That
A Pilonidal Cyst is something I had never heard of. Not until my 18 year old son developed one. I don't believe I have ever seen anything quite like it.
A Pilonidal Cyst is a cyst that forms most commonly on the tailbone area at the top or near the top of the cleft of the buttocks, or the " butt crack". Most doctors believe that the Pilonidal Cyst is caused by an ingrown hair and then becomes infected. Some doctors think a Pilonidal Cyst is a direct result of the human tail that is seen during fetal development in conjunction with the development of the spine. This "tail" is supposed to detach and disappear once the spine is done developing. Sometimes this "tail" doesn't do these things and can develop into a Pilonidal Cyst. Another theory is that some sort of injury of the sacrococcygeal area, the area that includes the sacrum or the lower vertebrae and the coccyx or the tailbone can cause these cysts to occur. Some babies are born with a Pilonidal Dimple which is not the same thing as a Pilonidal Cyst and rarely turn into a cyst. The causes of this cyst are still being looked at.
Pilonidal Cysts are more often seen in men than in women. Usually they show up between the ages of 15 and 24 with very rare occurrences after the age of 40.
Symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts
My son started to complain about his butt hurting and I told him he probably had a pimple or something and it would go away. I hadn't looked because I don't regularly look at my 18 year old sons butt. Haven't seen it since he was 6 or so. After a week went by he woke up on Tuesday morning of this week with blood and pus everywhere, I had to take a look. What I saw stunned me. I don't think I can explain my thoughts any other way as to what I was looking at. After I got it cleaned up I was met with the most shocking thing I do believe I have ever seen, and I don't mean in pictures. This was real life.
My son had two small holes in his skin. There was no flesh of any kind within the holes. And they were deep. My mouth dropped open and I think I muttered, " Oh my God". Albeit I was looking into darkness, I later learned I was looking into a cavity within my son's body. I need to say it again, " Oh my God". The 2nd thing that ran through my mind was, " flesh eating virus". Now my heart was pounding and my stomach was jumping.
The symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts are:
- Localized swelling
- Reddening of the skin
- Drainage of pus and blood from an opening of the skin which is called a Pilonidal Sinus
- Hair protruding from the Pilonidal Sinus
- Fever ( although it's rare)
- Foul Smell from the draining pus
The Pilonidal Sinus looks like a channel or tunnel below the surface of the skin that connects the cyst to the opening on the surface of the skin.
Causes and Risks
The cause of Pilonidal Cysts are varying and still being looked into. Some doctors think it is due to inactivity or sitting improperly and others think it's an ingrown hair that the body attacks and forms a cyst around. Others think the human tail that forms with spinal formation during gestation and fails to absorb or disappear once the spine is formed is the cause.
Mayo Clinic gives these risk factors:
- Inactive lifestyle
- Occupation or sports that require sitting
- Excess body hair
- Stiff or coarse hair
- Poor hygiene
- Excess sweating
My son has a few of these such as excessive sitting, excess body hair ( he is a hairy guy), and stiff or coarse hair. So do I think his human tail didn't absorb during gestation, or do I think he plays to many video games sitting on his butt? Well he does play and sit on his butt to much like most teenagers these days. Do I think that's the cause? I just don't know. What I do know is that it must be fixed. My son is having pain and I don't care for that.
The first thing to know is that antibiotics will not heal a Pilonidal Cyst, it will only treat the infection. Once a cavity is opened it will not close again without some type of medical intervention. At least that is how I interpret the information I have been pouring over since my son saw the doctor.
One treatment is incision and drainage.The area around the cyst is numbed with a local anesthetic and the doctor makes an incision to drain and clean the cyst. The wound is then packed with dressing so it can heal from the inside out.
Another treatment is surgery. This procedure is necessary if you have recurring infection of the cyst or have one or more of the sinus passages open.
All your options should be discussed with your doctor to find out which treatment is the right one for you. Postoperative care is extremely important and you will have detailed instructions from you doctor on that care.
Mayo Clinic offers these tips on helping prevent the reinfection of you Pilonidal Cyst.
- Remove any hair from this area on a regular basis. Shaving or depilatory creams work well in this area. Laser treatments for hair growth also seem to help.
- Clean the area daily with glycerin soap because it's less irritating to the skin. Rinse all soap residue off the area. Once the area is healed and no longer sore, washing the area briskly with a washcloth also helps keep the area free of hair.
- Keep the area clean and dry. Don't use powders, oils, or herbal remedies in this area.
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time.
I will certainly be hounding my kid to get up off his butt a bit more often. Although with the pain he is in I do believe he will do anything to prevent this from happening again.
We Go See The Surgeon
My son has been on his antibiotic for a day and a half and already his infection looks like it's healing. He is on some strong antibiotic, taking 875 mg twice a day. When he gets close to done with his medicine we will be going to the surgeons to see what he has to say about getting this deal fixed. Hopefully we will be fixing my son right up very soon. I hate seeing him in pain like this.
I hope this has helped others who are experience something going on in the " behind " region. I had never heard of Pilonidal Cysts before and found it most interesting and wanted to pass it along.