Are You at Risk for Pilonidal Disease? If So, Here’s What You Can Do About It

If you’re like many of us, the mention of pilonidal disease brings a blank stare.  However, to over 200,000 American adults who are over the age of 19, the ailment is painfully well known.  Pilonidal disease involves the formation of a cyst between the buttocks at the base of the tailbone. The abnormal growth, which contains hair and dead skin cells, is believed to develop when thick hair gets pushed back toward the skin.  A cyst grows over the ingrown hairs, dead skin cells and dirt. An infected pilonidal cyst will be painful and smell bad due to draining pus. Here are some of the risk factors for the skin infection, a few prevention methods and options for pilonidal cyst treatment.

Risk Factors for Pilonidal Skin Infection

Pilonidal cysts occur most often in males between the ages of 20 to 40 years old.  If you fall into this group or you’re the parent of someone who does, pay special attention to the risk factors and prevention methods for this skin condition.  A notable risk factor for getting pilonidal cysts is having thick, coarse hair that grows near the base of your spine. Obesity and an overly sedentary lifestyle put you at risk for pilonidal cysts.  Extra weight and constant sitting place more pressure and friction on hair follicles and skin in that area.  Also, you could be one of the few people who are born with a dimple or indent at the base of your spine that makes collection of dirt, hair and old skin cells easy.

Prevention Protocols for At-Risk People

So you’re at risk for pilonidal disease. There’s no need to stress about it. There are ways to prevent pilonidal cysts before they become serious health problems.  You can begin by double-checking your hygiene habits. Most medical experts agree that washing and exfoliating the area between your buttocks regularly can help to prevent those cysts. Removing coarse hair from that area by shaving or waxing can also reduce the chance of cyst formation.  Wearing loose-fitting clothing and shedding excess pounds can lower the amount of friction between hair and skin in that area.

Common Treatment Options for Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal cyst treatment options consist of conventional medical solutions as well as a variety of home remedies. Some pilonidal cyst sufferers find temporary relief by applying a warm compress to the area or taking a warm sitz bath with Epsom salt.  The bath is not only comforting, but the salt’s components help to draw out pus from infected pilonidal cysts. Other people have found success with the regular application of antibacterial tea tree and castor oils. When none of these at-home treatments work for you, your doctor will likely suggest draining the cyst via a cut or removing it surgically.  The above-mentioned prevention methods can help you to stop pilonidal cysts from returning.