A pilonidal cyst is a small, hair-containing skin sac at the base of the spine. The cyst looks like a small opening--sometimes no more than a dimple -- with a few hairs protruding (sometimes). The skin and hair follicles are involved. It is prone to infection. Pilonidal cysts are uncommon in black people. Pilonidal cysts can affect both sexes but are more common in males. Cyst infections usually begin in young adulthood.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to remove the cyst, if it repeatedly becomes infected.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSPain, redness, tenderness, and swelling in the area.
Fever and chills.
Discharge of pus.
No symptoms when not infected. When infected, it causes:
A pilonidal cyst is a minor abnormality that occurs during fetal development. Infection is usually caused by staphylococcal bacteria.
RISK FACTORSHeavy perspiration. Obesity increases perspiration.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Urge your child to bathe or shower daily to keep the area clean. Hot tub baths seem more effective in preventing infection of the cyst.
Encourage your child to wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
Help your child avoid becoming overweight.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of the discharge.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSSpread of infection (rare).
Curable with antibiotic treatment.
HOME CAREIf the cyst is infected, the child should take warm baths to relieve pain. Encourage your child to sit in a tub of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes as often as it feels good.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight infection.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions, unless the cyst becomes infected. Then, limit the child's activities until the infection is cured.
DIET & FLUIDS
Losing weight is beneficial if your child is overweight. A reducing diet appears in Appendix 31.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, after surgery has healed and appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of a pilonidal cyst. It should be diagnosed.
After diagnosis, your child's cyst shows signs of infection.