Pilonidal Cyst: What It Is, Causes, Treatment, and More

Whether due to an ingrown hair or another reason, sometimes, a sac can develop near the tailbone and cause lots of pain. It’s called a pilonidal cyst.

But what is a pilonidal cyst? And if you have one, how do you treat it? Let’s take an in-depth look at this issue and how you can have it taken care of.

What is a Pilonidal Cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is a round sac that develops near the base of the spine. The most common type of this cyst is found in the crease of the buttocks, but it can occur anywhere from the tailbone to the anus.

The cyst can be painful, especially when left untreated and when sitting. And because of where it occurs, many people are too embarrassed to have it checked out.

While it can be a one-time thing, these cysts can be chronic and occur again and again.

When left untreated, they can turn into an abscess or even a sinus cavity.

Causes of Pilonidal Cysts

The exact cause of pilonidal cysts is currently unknown. They are often caused by skin infections that are caused by ingrown hairs.  Ingrown hairs are often found inside the cysts. Additionally, some experts believe that they may be caused by trauma in that area of the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts

When a pilonidal abscess is present, the individual will experience pain, swelling, and redness at the base of the spine. They may also see blood or pus coming from the area. It may also be tender to the touch or have a bad odor due to the pus.

Pain can also be felt directly below the tailbone and worsen when sitting or lying down.


Diagnosis is typically made based on clinical signs and symptoms. They may ask you if it has changed in appearance, if it is producing blood or pus, and what your symptoms are.

A physical examination will also be done to rule out other infections, such as skin lesions or bedsores.

Treatment for Pilonidal Cyst

Treatment depends on the severity of the damage. If you have a small abscess, it can be treated using antibiotics to prevent scarring and infection. A mild cyst can be treated with injections of phenol. A severe abscess may need surgery to remove the affected tissue.

After removing a pilonidal cyst, you may need an antiseptic wash or oral antibiotics.

Regular follow-up exams are necessary to ensure the area heals fully and prevents cyst recurrence.

Laser treatments may be done to remove any hair in the area to prevent the cysts from forming again.

Schedule A Consultation

If you suspect you have a pilonidal cyst, our team of experts at Arizona Colorectal Experts can help. There is no reason to be embarrassed!

The first step is to schedule a consultation by calling our Chandler, AZ office at 602-844-5157 or by using our online scheduling tool.