Skip to Content
Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Pilonidal Disease
Pilonidal (say "py-luh-NY-dul") disease is a chronic skin infection in the crease between the buttocks. People with this condition have one or more cysts in that area that tend to get inflamed and infected. A pilonidal cyst may look like a small dimple (called
a "pit" or "sinus"). Hair may stick out from it.
See a picture of a pilonidal cyst.
Experts think pilonidal cysts may form in one of three ways:
Pilonidal disease often has
no symptoms. If a cyst gets infected (called an
abscess), you may have:
A physical exam of the buttocks is usually all doctors need to diagnose pilonidal disease. You probably won't need any other tests unless the area doesn't heal or your doctor thinks there may be another problem.
If the cyst gets infected or is a problem, your doctor may need to open and drain the cyst. This procedure can be done in your doctor's office. You may get antibiotics if the infection is severe. The cyst may take a month or more to heal.
You may need to have surgery (excision) to remove the cyst. Surgery may need to be done if:
Surgery may be done at an outpatient surgical center or hospital. It may take 6 weeks or longer to heal.
Cysts can come back after being drained. Surgery works better as a permanent cure.
While you are being treated for an infected cyst:
For cysts that are not causing symptoms or after you have had surgery to remove a cyst:
Keeping the area free of hair may also help. Talk with your doctor about what he or she
Learning about pilonidal disease:
Other Works Consulted
Marcello PW (2010). Diseases of the anorectum. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2257–2274. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerC. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery
Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & C. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Heart Attack Care
Heart Failure Care