Pilonidal Abscess

Pilonidal Abscess is a complicated condition that leads to redness, swelling and other discomforting symptoms in the crease between the buttocks. Have a detailed read on what is Pilonidal Abscess as well as its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Pilonidal Abscess Definition

It is a disease that can  arise at any region along the fold between the buttocks which extends from the sacrum or the bone at the spinal end to the anus.

Picture 1 – Pilonidal Abscess  Source – ramsayhealth

A Pilonidal Abscess may arise as an abscess, in which there is an infection of a hair follicle and accumulation of pus within a fat tissue. It may also develop as a hole or cyst if the abscess has been there for a prolonged duration. It may originate as a Pilonidal Sinus Abscess in which there is a growth of a tract beneath the skin or in an area that lies deep away from a hair follicle. It may also be visible as a tiny pore or pit that consists of dark hair or spots.

The condition is also known by other names like Sacrococcygeal Fistula and Pilonidal Sinus.

Pilonidal Abscess Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Pilonidal Abscess are:

Drainage of Pus

The condition often results in pus drainage into a small hole in the skin surface. This may soil undergarments and cause much embarrassment.


Affected individuals often suffer from tenderness in their buttock after sitting for a long time period. There is also redness observed in the fold between the buttocks.


Patients also suffer from swelling in the tailbone. This causes much discomfort while sitting. Swelling is also accompanied by pain in the sacrum. Some patients may suffer from recurring but mild episodes of pain and inflammation. They may also develop infections of lower intensity.


Sufferers of this disease also experience high body temperatures which is a direct result of infection and pain.

Pilonidal Abscess Causes

The exact causes of Pilonidal Abscess are still unclear. Medical researchers believe that it is a result of an ingrown hair or a strand of hair that grows back into the skin that lies within the fold between the buttocks.

It is also supposed to affect people who have excessive body hair, wear tight clothes or sit for prolonged duration at a stretch. Obese individuals and those who have experienced irritation or injury in the area are also susceptible to this condition. This condition commonly arises when skin on one side of the fold constantly rubs against the other due to tight clothes. Friction of skins due to activities like cycling for a long time can also be a reason.

During the Second World War, many soldiers who drove or rode on jeeps suffered from this condition. This happened as they sat for long periods while driving on bumpy roads. The jerking caused friction between skins and also the skin and the seats.

Who Suffers From Pilonidal Abscess?

The condition can affect people of all age groups. However, it is more common in teenagers and young adults. It is rarely seen in individuals over 40 years of age. Men are three times more likely to suffer from this disease than women.

Pilonidal Abscess Diagnosis

This condition is typically diagnosed by a physical examination of the appearance of the affected area and the symptoms. Doctors as patients whether there has been drainage in the region. In rare cases, a CT scan may be carried out for a proper diagnosis and to rule out presence of other disorders.

Pilonidal Abscess Treatment

There is no need of any treatment unless the condition gives rise to discomforting symptoms. An asymptomatic abscess requires no cure. An abscess that gives rise to symptoms may be treated with antibiotics to prevent spread of infection in the skin.

An infected abscess does not resolve naturally. Pilonidal Abscess removal requires medical treatment in case of an infection. An expert healthcare provider makes an incision over the abscess to drain it properly. All unwanted hairs are removed from the surrounding region to ensure that there is not a recurrence of the abscess. This is a minor surgery that can be carried out in the doctor’s office.

Pilonidal Abscess Recurrence

In some cases, there is a recurrence of the abscess. A surgical operation, that is more invasive, is required in such cases. An expert surgeon completely lets out the cyst and removes all skin debris from the surrounding area. The cyst may be closed with stitches or left open to heal by itself. Closing the wound increases chances of a quicker Pilonidal Abscess recovery. But it may also lead to a recurrence of the abscess.

Pilonidal Abscess Recurrence Rate

This condition has been found to recur only in 10% cases after Pilonidal Abscess surgery. If hair grows back in the region, chances of recurrence are much higher.

Pilonidal Abscess Prevention

The condition may be avoided by making a few lifestyle modifications. These include

Weight Loss

Losing weight can reduce skin friction and wipe out any risk of development of a cyst. Regular exercise and a strict diet can lead to a fast weight loss.

Shave Hair

People with excessive hair in the lower back region can shave them at regular intervals. Using hair removal creams is a painless process and reduces risk of cyst formation from an ingrown hair.

Wear Loose Clothes

Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes that may lead to skin friction with garments and also skin-to-skin rubbing. Loose clothes can give your skin enough space and help avoid chafing.

Pilonidal Abscess Home Remedy

For patients of Pilonidal Abscess home treatment involves shaving the area to remove all unwanted hair. Tight clothes and undergarments should be avoided to let the Pilonidal Cyst Abscess dry itself easily. Keeping the area dry and clean is essential to treatment.

Pilonidal Abscess Pictures

Want to check how these cysts look like? Here are some Pilonidal Abscess photos to give you a clue. Check out these Pilonidal Abscess images to know about the appearance of these cysts.

Picture 2 – Pilonidal Abscess Image Source – skincarecity Picture 3 – Pilonidal Abscess Photo

Source – findseniorhomes

Pilonidal Abscess is a very discomforting syndrome that can cause much irritation and embarrassment. However, the condition resolves quickly with effective treatment and care. Get in touch with a doctor immediately if you observe redness and swelling between your buttocks. Early treatment will ensure early recovery for you.


  1. Clare parkes July 10, 2011
  2. Anne Smith March 6, 2013
  3. Donna L Wagner May 2, 2017

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