How to Clean a Pilonidal Cyst
When your backside is painful and inflamed, the last thing you might want to do is wash and dry it. You might worry that scrubbing around the spot will cause more pain or aggravate your condition.
Despite these fears, proper cleaning is an essential component of pilonidal care. Learning how to clean a pilonidal cyst will help you get the job done carefully and effectively.
How to Clean a Pilonidal Cyst Before Surgery
Pilonidal cysts, also known as pilonidal sinuses, are often asymptomatic. When bacterial growth inside the sinus multiplies, an abscess develops. Proper care and cleaning can reduce the concentration of bacteria around the opening to the pilonidal sinus.
When taking your daily shower, use water and mild soap to lather the area near your pilonidal cyst. Regular soap is fine for this task; antibacterial formulas aren't necessary.
To learn more about how soap clears away dirt and germs and why antibacterial varieties are unnecessary, watch the following video:
After soaping, you should rinse the area thoroughly. Letting warm shower water run down your backside is a quick and easy way to accomplish this. If that seems too painful, you may be able to gently spoon handfuls of water over the area.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to rinse thoroughly. Leftover soap residue can be irritating to skin around your pilonidal sinus. When you're finished washing, use a towel to pat the skin dry before getting dressed.
You may be able to use topical products to further combat bacterial buildup. Some experts recommend applying a mixture made of rubbing alcohol and witch hazel in equal proportions.
Others suggest applying essential oils to the affected area. Tea tree and sage oils are sometimes used for their antimicrobial properties. They may also provide a measure of comfort for irritated skin.
Always consult your doctor before using any topical treatments. Keep in mind that topical products won't reach deep into the tissue to address bacterial growth in an infected pilonidal abscess. If your pilonidal disease has progressed to that point, you'll probably need medical intervention.
What to Do When Recovering from Surgery
When your pilonidal sinus requires more than home care, your doctor may advise undergoing a medical procedure. An in-office drainage procedure is usually tried first.
If further interventions are needed, the doctor may advise having surgery to remove or close the pilonidal tract and cavity. Traditional surgeries often involve excising both the affected tissue and the surrounding area. Ablation with the neoV Laser is a less-invasive method of sealing shut the tract.
Whichever procedure is used, whether drainage, excision or laser ablation, you'll have a surgical wound to care for afterward. Of course, your healing time will be much longer for a major excision than it will be for the small opening created during a laser procedure. But for however long your wound lasts, it's important to clean it properly.
In the days immediately following your procedure, your doctor may advise using sterile water alone to clean the wound. A special wound wash is another alternative that your doctor may recommend.
Once your healing has progressed sufficiently — or shortly after your procedure if the wound is fairly minor — you'll be able to cleanse in the shower with mild soap and water. As before your surgery, it's smart to rinse thoroughly with clean water and gently pat the skin dry after your shower.
You may need to cover the wound with a gauze dressing. This can protect the site as it heals, keep out dirt and debris, and absorb fluids that leak from the incision.
Your doctor may recommend that you use a topical product to reduce bacterial growth during the recovery process. This should be done only if your doctor tells you to do so; it's not a good idea to self-medicate with alcohol or peroxide at this time.
You'll need to take extra care after a bowel movement. Quickly rinsing off in the shower after using the restroom is one suggestion. If that's not convenient, you can use pre-moistened baby wipes instead.
How to Prevent Future Recurrences of a Pilonidal Cyst
Even after your surgical wound heals, you can't put pilonidal sinus care too far out of your mind. Proper cleaning may reduce the likelihood that you'll develop a recurrence.
Careful hygiene starts with washing and drying your buttocks area every day. In the bath or shower, use a mild soap to clean the skin, then rinse with clear water and towel dry.
Letting sweat linger on your backside can create a breeding ground for infectious bacteria, so it's important to keep the skin in that area dry. If your underwear becomes damp with sweat, change as soon as possible. When possible, rinse off first.
Your doctor may recommend hair removal as part of your personal hygiene routine. Because many experts believe that thick, coarse hairs that work their way under the skin are the cause of most pilonidal sinuses, they suggest clearing away the potential culprits.
You can talk to your doctor about whether hair removal is right for you. If so, shaving is a low-cost approach that you can use at home. Some doctors suggest using depilatory creams to chemically remove the hair instead. An alternative solution is laser hair removal. This procedure is more expensive, but the results will last longer.
From beginning to end of pilonidal disease, you need to know how to clean a pilonidal cyst. Soap and water will be your most important tools, but, at certain points in the process, you may also rely on topical products, wound rinse, gauze or baby wipes. To learn more about your specific needs, consult with a colorectal specialist in your area.
As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.