What Is A Pilonidal Cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is a very painful type of abscess of boil that forms at the base of your tailbone. It resembles a large and inflamed pimple near the base of your tailbone. Often, a pilonidal cyst becomes infected and fills with pus.  A pilonidal cyst can vary in size and shape. Some cysts are small or look like a dimple while other pilonidal cysts can cover a larger area around the top of your buttocks.

Causes of Pilonidal Cysts

Anyone can develop a pilonidal cyst and these cysts are most often caused by an ingrown hair.  The term “pilonidal” actually means “nest of hair” and doctors often find hair follicles embedded in the cyst. A pilonidal cyst may also appear after you experience a traumatic injury to your body in the same area that the cyst develops. People that spend a significant amount of time sitting down for work, such as office workers or truck drivers, are prone to the development of a pilonidal cyst.

Symptoms of a Pilonidal Cyst

There are several tell-tale symptoms of a pilonidal cyst:

  • A painful, inflamed, red, swelling located at the base of your spine, above your buttocks
  • A painful bump that leaks pus as well as blood
  • Pus discharge that is especially foul – smelling
  • Fever and feelings of unwellness
  • Redness and tenderness in the area around the base of your spine.



Pilonidal cysts can be treated by a medical professional with the use of antibiotics. Like any other boil or abscess, a pilonidal cyst will need to be lanced or drained in order to heal. For many people, antibiotics will not effectively treat your pilonidal cyst and you will need to contact your doctor to dicuss other treatment options, such as pilonidal cyst surgery.

When a cyst keeps coming back in the same place, your physician may recommend pilonidal cyst surgery to treat the infection and to help prevent a reoccurrence of the cyst.  In general, there are a couple of ways to surgically address a pilonidal cyst. Your doctor can make an incision into the cyst and drain the pus from it in order to clean the area. Your doctor will remove any hair follicles or other debris that has collected within the cyst. The doctor will then leave the surgical wound open and pack it with gauze while it heals. This is usually the preferred method of treatment and it is a simple procedure that is done under local anesthesia. Marsupialization is another surgical treatment in which your doctor will cut and drain the cyst, and then he will stitch the edges of the surgical wound together in order to make a pouch. This type of treatment is carried out under local anesthesia as well.