Most ingrown hairs are just under the surface of your skin, and you can easily lift them out with the tip of a sterile needle.
Pilonidal cysts, on the other hand, form in the deeper layers of your skin. Over time, the hair rubs against surrounding tissues, causing inflammation and forming a pocket that eventually traps dead skin cells. As the pocket fills with fluid, it may drain and ooze now and then — which may smell foul and contain some blood — or the infection may continue to grow inward.
Either way, you need medical attention.
Dr. Farrow’s treatment goal is to get rid of the current infection and prevent it from returning. To accomplish that, he lances and drains the cyst and cleans the wound, but that’s not enough to stop it from coming back.
For your best chance at prevention, he needs to remove the cyst surgically. Although it takes 2-4 weeks to recover, the procedure is necessary if you want to avoid future pilonidal cysts.
There’s no guarantee you’ll never get a pilonidal cyst, but there are some preventive measures that can help you avoid them.
The first step is to know whether you’re at risk for pilonidal cysts. Some people are more likely to experience this painful infection than others. If you’re a man, you’re automatically at a higher risk. If you have an excess amount of body hair, especially if it’s coarse and curly, your chances of getting a pilonidal cyst increase. And anyone who sits a lot is at risk as well.
Whether you fall into one of these categories or not, do your best to prevent a pilonidal cyst by following these steps.
If you have a job that keeps you seated at a desk or driving, do your best to take frequent breaks, standing and moving as often as possible.
If you’re overweight or obese, losing a few pounds can go a long way toward relieving pressure on the area.
It’s important to keep the area clean and bacteria-free, so regular washing of the crease of your buttocks is critical. If you get sweaty, you may need to do this more than once daily.
Moisture breeds bacteria, so make sure you dry this area well after washing, and again, if you sweat a lot or spend time in the water, dry the skin well.
Tight jeans and leggings squeeze your buttocks together and cause friction that can lead to a pilonidal cyst.
One way to prevent a pilonidal cyst altogether is to remove the hair in the area. But don’t just shave or pluck it, as those methods can cause the hair to grow inward. Instead, try a depilatory cream or laser treatment.
These prevention tips are important because pilonidal cysts can be dangerous. While they aren’t life-threatening in and of themselves, pilonidal cysts can lead to a whole-body infection that can quickly become serious.
If, despite your efforts to prevent it, you do get a pilonidal cyst, don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help. About 70,000 people a year get a pilonidal cyst, so you’re not alone. Dr. Farrow treats you with compassion and respect, so there’s no reason to delay treatment.
If you suspect you have a pilonidal cyst, schedule an appointment today by calling either of our offices in Houston or Katy, Texas or booking online.