Pilonidal Cyst

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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What is the treatment for a pilonidal cyst? Is surgery necessary for pilonidal cysts?

Treatment for pilonidal cysts involves draining the infection (abscess). A procedure called an "incision and drainage" (I&D) is performed either using local anesthesia or general anesthesia and performing surgery to drain pus and debris from inside the cyst cavity.

If extensive scar tissue or chronic sinus tract is found in the pilonidal cyst area, a more extensive surgery may be needed for removal of the abscess. The general surgeon can discuss different surgical procedures or techniques for removing the infected tissue.

If there is a severe infection (cellulitis or sepsis), or if a patient is immune-suppressed (patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, on steroid treatment, or other immune-modulating medications), antibiotics are usually prescribed.

What is the prognosis of a pilonidal cyst?

The prognosis for a pilonidal cyst is generally good. Reoccurrence of abscesses is frequent if extensive scar tissue or sinus formation occurs. Surgical treatment can be curative although, even with surgery, a small amount of cysts may reoccur.

Is it possible to prevent a pilonidal cyst?

In people prone to or with risk factors for pilonidal cysts, modifying risk factors may help prevent flare-ups. Losing weight, keeping the area clean and hair-free, avoiding excessive sitting or clothing that chafes the coccyx area are all ways to help prevent inflammation or infection of a pilonidal cyst.


Sullivan, Daniel J., David C. Brooks, and Elizabeth Breen. "Intergluteal pilonidal disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis." UpToDate.com. Jan. 2015. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/intergluteal-pilonidal-disease-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis?source=search_result&search=pilonidal+cyst+cause&selectedTitle=1~17>.

Sullivan, Daniel J., David C. Brooks, and Elizabeth Breen. "Management of intergluteal pilonidal disease." UpToDate.com. Jan. 2015. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/management-of-intergluteal-pilonidal-disease?source=search_result&search=pilonidal+cyst+cause&selectedTitle=6~17>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/2/2015

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