A pilonidal sinus is an abnormal tunnel or hole in the skin that usually causes the development of a cyst that contains skin and hair debris. A pilonidal cyst usually appears near the tailbone at the top of the buttocks.
Pilonidal sinus occurs when hair pierces the skin and becomes embedded within. If the pilonidal sinus becomes infected, the resulting abscess is often very painful.
Pilonidal sinus usually affects young men, and it tends to recur. People who sit for long periods of time, such as taxi drivers, are at a higher risk of developing a pilonidal sinus.
Signs and Symptoms
Once the pilonidal sinus becomes infected, it will turn into a swollen abscess or cyst.
The signs and symptoms of an infected pilonidal cyst may include:
- Pain, especially when sitting
- Skin redness and tenderness
- Pus or blood drainage from an opening in the skin
- Foul smell from the pus
- Development of more sinus tunnels or holes in the skin
Consult your doctor if you notice any of the signs or symptoms associated with the pilonidal sinus.
Pilonidal sinus occurs when loose hairs pierce the skin because of friction and pressure caused by tight clothing, sitting for long periods of time, or similar factors. The body creates a cyst around the hair in response to the foreign substance.
It should be noted that several factors can make you more likely to develop pilonidal sinus, including the following:
- Being male
- Young age
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a job that requires sitting for prolonged periods
- Having stiff body hair
- Inactive lifestyle
- Having a family history of pilonidal sinus
Treatment for an infected pilonidal sinus depends on the symptoms and size of the sinus and whether the sinus is recurrent or not. The initial treatment is usually an outpatient procedure that involves numbing the affected area and making a small incision to drain the cyst. If pilonidal sinus recurs, the prcotologist will most likely recommend surgery to remove the sinus.
After surgery, your doctor may choose one of the following:
- Excision and open healing. In this case, the wound is left open and a bandage is applied to allow the wound to heal from the inside out. This process takes longer to heal but it carries a lower risk of infection recurrence.
- Excision and wound closure. Although the recovery time is shorter with this option, there is a higher risk of recurrence.
- Endoscopic treatment. This minimally invasive technique involves the use of an endoscope to get a clear view of the infected area so hair and abscess can be removed and then heat is applied to close the sinus shut.
- Wound care is very important after surgery. Our colorectal surgeon will give you instructions on how to change the bandages, and when to expect full recovery. Moreover, the doctor may recommend shaving the hair around the surgical site to prevent hair from entering the wound.
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