What is pilonidal disease and how is it treated? - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

What is pilonidal disease and how is it treated?

February 23, 2011

The condition where the skin above the buttock crease gets infected and inflamed is called pilonidal disease. It usually starts with a tender and swollen abscess in the natal cleft that may drain fluids. Once the abscess disappears on its own or with Houston treatment, a pilonidal sinus develops under the skin.

Pilonidal disease generally affects those between 18 and 40, and mostly men than women. The obese and those with stiff and thick body hair are also vulnerable to the disease. At times, the hair follicle may also rupture because of stretched deep skin layers where the resulting hair from the follicle creates a pilonidal cyst.

Excess sweating, poor hygiene and a job with prolonged periods of sitting all contribute to development of and probable infection of pilonidal cyst to lead to pilonidal disease.

Signs and symptoms

The first sign of pilonidal disease is a pilonidal cyst that may be large and painful or a small pimple. Infected cysts drain a foul smelling liquid while the area becomes red and tender. Sometimes, the infection may led to fever or nausea while the pilonidal sinus tracts that develop may get infected to cause swelling, drainage and pain.


The Houston colon doctor treats pilonidal or tailbone cysts by draining the infected region, and removing hair and other foreign material found here. However the Houston doctor may resort to surgery to treat pilonidal sinuses or chronic pilonidal disease.

With this surgery, the sinus or abscess is opened and cleaned out, and let to heal from inside out. The open wound should be kept clean with frequent dressing changes and fluid drainage to prevent recurrent infections.

The hair surrounding the upper buttocks may also have to be removed to prevent further infection. If the surgical wound is not taken care of well, there is a chance of a recurrent pilonidal disease infection.