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 are pilonidal cyst symptoms and signs?

If a pilonidal cyst is not infected, there may be no symptoms. When a cyst is infected, signs and symptoms include

  • fever,
  • pain to the top of the buttocks,
  • low back pain,
  • swelling,
  • redness,
  • discharge of blood or pus (if abscess ruptures or "pops"), and
  • foul-smelling odor.

How do doctors diagnose a pilonidal cyst?

A doctor will diagnose a pilonidal cyst by first doing a physical examination. A pilonidal cyst looks like a lump, swelling, or abscess at the cleft of the buttock with tenderness, and possibly a draining or bleeding area (sinus). The location of the cyst at the top of the buttocks makes it characteristic for a pilonidal cyst.

If infection is severe, blood tests may be performed for diagnosis. There is usually no need for imaging tests in cases of pilonidal cysts.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2016

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