Pilonidal Disease

Pilonidal disease is a chronic infection of skin in the crease of the buttocks. The condition can show up in several ways:

  • An abscess - infection causes tenderness and pus drainage
  • A cyst - formation of a hole in the location of the abscess
  • A sinus - a cavity under the skin
  • A pit - a small pore with hair or dark spots

Factors that increase the risk for pilonidal disease include:

  • Obesity
  • Trauma to the area
  • Age - it usually occurs before the age of 40
  • Gender - it is more common in men
  • Excessive body hair
  • Sitting for long periods of time or wearing very tight clothing

If there are no symptoms or the abscess resolves on its own, then no treatment is necessary. If symptoms like swelling, pain or drainage occur, surgery will likely be recommended.


Treatment depends upon the severity of the condition. Your physician can make an incision to drain the pus from an abscess that does not resolve on its own. Cysts or sinuses that are chronically infected may be cut out. The hole that remains may be left open or closed, depending upon the patient. Your surgeon can help choose which form of treatment is most appropriate.


To find out more about pilonidal disease, see the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons.

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