Are Pilonidal Cysts Recurrent?

Are Pilonidal Cysts Recurrent?

Pilonidal Cysts

You've had an infected pilonidal cyst once, and once is enough, right? Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

If you're wondering, "Are pilonidal cysts recurrent?" it's time to check out the following guide to repeat pilonidal infections. Not only will you learn more about why recurrences might happen, but you can also learn what you can do about the problem.

Do Pilonidal Cysts Come Back?

The short answer is "yes." Pilonidal cysts, better known as pilonidal sinuses, are known to become infected more than once.

In one study, for example, 21.4 percent of those who were treated with antibiotics saw their infections come back within two years. There was a 26.8 percent recurrence rate for those whose cysts were drained and a 30.4 percent return rate for patients who had pilonidal surgery.

Although it might seem that the antibiotics were the most effective treatment, it's important to note that the patients in that group may have had the least complicated cases to begin with. Therefore, they may have started with a lower likelihood of recurrence.

What this study certainly makes clear is that it's not at all unusual for pilonidal infections to return. Considering that perhaps one-fifth to one-third of all patients end up with a recurrence, it's a wise idea to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening.

What Causes Pilonidal Cysts to Recur?

A pilonidal sinus is simply a tract that leads from the skin's surface to a cavity deep within the tissue. Unless a doctor removes or seals the tract, it is unlikely to go away. It may not always be infected and, therefore, bothering you, but it will still be there.

If you have an infected pilonidal sinus, your doctor may treat it with a course of antibiotics. He or she may also recommend doing a drainage procedure; during this procedure, the cavity will be cleaned out, and any blood or pus will be removed. The pilonidal cyst may even burst naturally on its own.

These actions can take care of a pilonidal flare-up for the time being. However, they deal only with the infection. The sinus tract and the cavity will still be in the body, which means that they can become infected again.

Because clearing up the infection doesn't close up the sinus tract, it's easy for the opening to once again collect hair, dead skin cells and other debris. Just like the first time, this buildup can become infected.

Can You Prevent Pilonidal Disease from Coming Back?

Although there's no surefire method to keep pilonidal disease from flaring up again, you can take steps to help reduce the chance that you'll suffer through another infection.

Reducing pressure on the area can make a difference. If you have a tendency to sit a lot, try to be more active; for jobs that require a lot of sitting, this may require taking frequent breaks from your desk. You can also try wearing looser clothes so they won't rub up against the affected spot.

If you are overweight, your doctor will probably suggest trying to lose weight. Dropping some pounds can help reduce the amount of pressure placed on your buttocks. A trimmer body also has less buttocks tissue in which dirt and debris can get caught and then pushed toward the pilonidal opening.

Good hygiene is important. Washing and drying the area thoroughly may help prevent future infections.

One of the best steps you can take is to keep hair away from the opening. Your doctor may recommend shaving the surrounding area, using a depilatory cream or undergoing laser hair removal.

Does Surgery Help with the Pilonidal Recurrence Rate?

You might be wondering, "Are pilonidal cysts recurrent after surgery?" The truth is that even surgery is not a certain method of keeping pilonidal disease away for good. However, surgical treatments have advantages over non-surgical options.

Unlike simply clearing up the infection, surgical approaches typically remove the sinus tract, destroy it or seal it shut. This can keep a new infection from settling into the tissue. Therefore, if you have had multiple infected pilonidal abscesses, your doctor will probably recommend that you have surgery to treat the problem.

However, there's always a chance that a new sinus tract could open up. One factor that plays a major role in the likelihood of having a repeat pilonidal cyst is the type of surgery that you undergo.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that leaving the wound open after an excision surgery can significantly increase the long-term success of this procedure compared to closing up the wound immediately after surgery. The unfortunate problem with this approach is that open wounds take a good deal longer to heal than closed ones.

Laser surgery is another promising option for long-term healing, and it addresses some of excision's inherent drawbacks. This is a minimally invasive procedure, and because it involves sealing the tract instead of cutting it out of the body, the recovery time is much more manageable.

Despite the quick healing time, a laser procedure may be useful for helping keep recurrences away for good. In one study, only 2.9 percent of the participants who had laser surgery experienced a pilonidal recurrence in the months following their procedures.

After any of these types of surgery, you should follow basic pilonidal prevention tips to reduce the chance of a recurrence:

  • Reduce pressure on the buttocks.
  • Lose weight.
  • Wash well.
  • Remove hair from around the buttocks.

Much to many sufferers' dismay, recurrence is a natural problem that comes along with pilonidal disease. Although there are no guarantees when it comes to pilonidal cysts, lifestyle changes may help you stay infection-free. One of the best things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence is to undergo the right type of surgery, such as a laser procedure.

Jen O'Keefe