A pilonidal sinus refers to a small hole or tunnel that develops in the skin. This may be filled with fluid or pus and lead to the formation of a cyst or an abscess. It occurs in the cleft at the top of the buttocks and contains dirt, hair and debris. A pilonidal sinus can cause immense pain. It can become infected and may ooze pus and blood along with a foul odor.
Pilonidal sinus disease or PNS mostly occurs in men. It is also common in young adults. It usually occurs in people who sit for long hours, such as cab and truck drivers.
Pilonidal Sinus Causes
The causes may include a combination of:
- Changing hormones
- Hair growth
- Lot of time spent sitting
- Friction from clothes
Basically, activities causing friction force the hair in the particular area to burrow back under the skin. This hair is considered foreign by the body, which now starts an immune response against it. This is what leads to the formation of a cyst around the hair. Some people may even have multiple sinuses, that connect under their skin.
Lack of enough exercise, bicycling, poor hygiene and excessive sweating can also be the causative factors for PNS.
This answers why does PNS occur. But what are the signs and symptoms?
Pilonidal Sinus Symptoms
Symptoms may not be visible when the sinus is in its beginning stage. However, as it gets infected and develops into a cyst or an abscess, it will be very much noticeable.
The signs and symptoms you may then face include:
- Swelling and redness
- Sore skin around the area
- Pain when sitting or standing
- Hair protruding from the lesion
- Pus and blood from the abscess along with foul odor
- More than one sinus tract or holes in the skin
- Nausea and fever along with extreme tiredness
Who can get pilonidal sinus?
A pilonidal cyst can happen to anyone. However, it is more common with the following:
- Men are more likely to get the condition
- People between puberty and 40 years of age
- People who keep sitting all day, that may be due to their occupation
- Inactive lifestyle
- People who are overweight or obese
- Those with thick or rough body hair
- Those wearing tight clothing
What if I leave PNS untreated?
People wonder – is pilonidal sinus dangerous. If not treated, the PNS can lead to an abscess or a sinus cavity, both indicating the severity of the situation. Therefore, it is important to get proper pilonidal sinus treatment.
What can I do to feel better?
Now that you know why PNS occurs, you may be wondering how to heal pilonidal sinus.
You may try soaking in a tub of warm water. Keeping the cyst and the surrounding area clean and dry is very important. These methods are applicable when the pilonidal sinus is in its early stages, such as when the redness, swelling and pain are not too bad.
Also, avoid prolonged sitting and lose weight if needed. This solves the very common query – how to prevent pilonidal sinus.
When am I supposed to call a doctor?
You may consult a doctor when you start facing any of the above-mentioned symptoms. The PNS looks like a pimple and can be treated with medication, hot compresses and some topical treatment. It may require drainage or lancing to heal more severe cases. PNS surgery is the last option when there is more than one sinus tract.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a pilonidal sinus hereditary?
It is possible for this problem to be hereditary. For example, if rough body hair run in your family, then there are more chances for you also to have them, leading to PNS.
Can the pilonidal cyst be contagious?
Though it is not contagious, researchers believe it may happen because of ingrown hair.
Can one get a pilonidal cyst during pregnancy?
Yes, it is possible. One of the symptoms of PNS in pregnant women can be pain in the buttocks. This calls for an appointment with your doctor.
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