Definitive Guide to Pilonidal Cysts: My Experience

Updated on November 24, 2016

Pilonidal Cysts: My Story

My pilonidal cyst started as a little lump on the bottom of my tailbone. Having never had one before, I didn’t know what it was, so I just left it. Bear in mind that I had been sitting on an incredibly uncomfortable couch for weeks on end when it started to develop. Had I known what it was, I would have gone to see the doctor straight away. Anyway, without knowing that the growth on my tail-bone was a pilonidal cyst, I carried on my daily routine as usual, until a few weeks later—when it really began to develop into a huge, bulbous boil, which became excruciatingly painful.

I went to the doctor and was told that it was a pilonidal cyst.

So, what does it look like? Well, as I have just described, it starts as a small lump on your tailbone. Apparently, they appear similar to regular boils when they start developing. They tend to grow quickly, and they go from being a minor annoyance to a major problem. What you can’t always be sure of is the cause, as they can vary.

If you have a small lump on your tailbone, and if you have any reason to suspect that it may be a pilonidal cyst, go immediately to a doctor! You will save yourself a lot of pain and wasted time if you just go when it first starts to develop.

I wish you the best of luck, because these cysts are horrible.

Causes

No, you cannot catch a pilonidal cyst from somebody who already has one. There is absolutely no chance you have contracted it from someone. Rather, the ability for this cyst to develop has always been in your genes, and I guess this is the moment it has chosen to surface (that, or you’ve been sitting too long uncomfortably, like me!).

Although the exact cause of pilonidal cysts is not exactly known by doctors and scientists, it can arise from several factors, the most common of which is a trapped hair follicle between the base of the spine (tailbone) and the buttocks. The majority arise in dark haired men aged 18-25, but is not limited to this demographic. The varying factors are listed below;

  • Trapped hair follicle. Normally hairy individuals, and having a ‘deeper’ natal cleft than usual (the cleft between the buttocks), can cause this, and is pretty much unavoidable, as a hair follicle could fall down and become ‘trapped’, causing ingrowing hair.
  • A family history of pilonidal cysts can be passed down through genetics (like many conditions and diseases), however they are not contagious.
  • Jobs that require long periods of sitting. For example, the disease first came to be named in the First World War as ‘Jeep Seat’, as the male soldiers who sat for a long time in the uncomfortable seats of jeeps were admitted to hospital, over 80,000 of them.

Although there are several theories, most research today points towards the trapped hair follicles, however this is definitely not exclusive as mine was caused by prolonged sitting in a very uncomfortable chair.

Pilonidal Cysts can also be reoccurring, so if you have had one in the past, it is possible it will happen again.

Signs & Symptoms

Some people with a pilonidal cyst may have no symptoms at all, especially at the start. However, if the pilonidal cyst get infected and turns into an infection, there can be several distinguishing symptoms that will be noticeable.

  • Pain at the tailbone (coccyx) or the top of the buttocks, slowly worsening. This will often be accompanied by a large, growing spot (cyst), not there before.
  • An inflamed redness on the affected area of skin, usually accompanying the skin on and around the cyst.
  • Pus leakage from the skin or cyst.
  • Extremely uncomfortable movement in the area between the buttocks, affected when walking, sitting and even laying.
  • Much less commonly, fever, and cysts in the hands.

You are advised to seek help from a doctor if any of these symptoms appear, or even if you suspect you may have a pilonidal cyst.

Treatment

If caught early, doctors will prescribe strong antibiotics which may well stop the cyst from developing further, and swelling up with pus. This may be all that is needed to get rid of the pilonidal cyst so therefore I recommend that you schedule a visit with your doctor as soon as you suspect you may have one.

However, if it develops, the professional recommended treatment of a pilonidal cyst is to be put under general anaesthetic, and have the cyst basically cut off from under the skin. This is done in a hospital, after which a nurse will come to your home indefinitely to redress the wound, every couple of days.

I personally wanted to avoid the surgery and the hassle afterwards, and while in some cases it is essential to have this done, in some cases, such as myself, it’s not. In the last few days of my pilonidal cyst, I took many hot baths to reduce the swelling, which in the end was enough for mine to pop of its own accord.

However, I have been told professionally that if lancing the cyst yourself, it can be dangerous as if the pus inside the cyst was to go back inside your skin or body, it could cause major complications. This is what made me seek other treatment, and as much as I wanted to cut the cyst off myself, I refrained.

All in all, the best treatment is prevention, so I’d like to say again, if you suspect you have one, get to the doctors urgently and you may well save yourself some nasty surgery and a lot of pain.

If one is developed, then bathe, head to the hospital and await professional advice.

Any advice on this site is not given by a professional, just from personal experience, and no website can replace the opinion of a qualified doctor.

Pilonidal Cyst Surgery - Should You Have It?

Deciding whether to have pilonidal cyst surgery can often be a very tough decision, which should be thought about quite carefully after consulting with both close family and doctors.

It is never easy to decide whether you should be put under anaesthetic for any operation, let alone be put under to remove your cyst with pilonidal cyst surgery

If I am to speak from experience, having pilonidal cyst surgery was something quite major, because it could be potentially life changing, at least for the foreseeable future. The possibility is always there that something could go wrong (however this is a minor risk associated with most operations, not just pilonidal surgery).

The first and most important thing in surgery, is find a reputable and trustworthy operator! In the UK, the NHS will provide this, but in the USA or any other country, you must be sure to find a doctor or surgeon that has performed numerous cyst surgeries, and DEFINITELY do not go to a back street doctor or buy one on the cheap. Pilonidal cyst surgery is a fairly straightforward procedure, but it certainly requires a level of skill and professionalism. There are few web resources to check with regards to pilonidal cyst surgery, which will help you put your mind at ease.

Having had a pilonidal cyst, I was frequently advised that the best thing to do would be to have the pilonidal cyst surgery, and then receive the few months of aftercare involved (which would involve a nurse coming in a few times a week and dressing the wound). Apparently, pilonidal cyst surgery leaves a fairly nasty wound which requires much care and attention, so be sure to do this if you have it.

Now, in some cases, it is essential to have pilonidal cyst surgery. Be sure that you have exhausted all possible options, and of course, if your doctor recommends surgery straight away, then follow their advice! Remember, they are more qualified than anyone else to diagnose whether it needs surgery or not.

If you have an incredibly painful one, then be sure to see a doctor or surgeon straight away, as you do not want it to get any worse or become infected. If it does, well, you will need to go to the emergency room and tell them about it.

Otherwise, try to treat you pilonidal cyst carefully at home first. This does not involve popping it, as this can be very dangerous! Instead, try to take as many hot baths as you can, and perform as little movement as possible in order to not irritate the cyst.

In conclusion, in many cases surgery will be essential. However, bear in mind that just because you have had surgery on it does not mean it will come back! Many people who suffer from this condition find that it is recurring, no matter what they do. I wish you the best of luck in curing your pilonidal cyst!

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