How to Prevent a Pilonidal Cyst from Coming Back
Many people who receive treatment for a pilonidal cyst will experience a recurrence at some point in their lives. How can you prevent this from happening to you? Although there's no entirely foolproof way to keep yourself from a repeat pilonidal flare-up, you can take precautions to reduce your chances.
If you want to try your best to avoid a recurrent pilonidal cyst, keep reading. Ahead, you'll find helpful tips and suggestions about how to prevent a pilonidal cyst from coming back.
How Often Does Pilonidal Disease Come Back?
"Pilonidal cyst" the common name for a condition that is more aptly termed "pilonidal sinus." No matter which name you choose to use, however, there is something that you should know about this condition: After treatment, there's a decent chance that your condition will someday recur.
In one study, researchers evaluated patients over a period of 20 years. During that time, 22 percent of them experienced a pilonidal sinus recurrence.
Some treatments have even higher recurrence rates. For example, surgically removing the sinus and performing a primary closure at the site may have a recurrence rate as high as 42 percent.
It can take many years for a recurrence to manifest. No more than 15 percent of recurrences appear within the first year after a patient undergoes surgery. About 60 percent happen within five years, but some may not show up for 20 years or more.
Why Do Recurrences Happen?
In some cases, a patient has more than one sinus tract at the time of the initial surgery, but the second one goes undetected. After a period of time, that tract may start to cause problems, requiring another surgery.
In other cases, the patient develops an entirely new case of pilonidal disease after the first round. It's quite possible that the same factors that led to the first case can contribute to an additional case by placing pressure on the buttocks area and causing hair to penetrate the skin.
If lifestyle changes aren't made to try to prevent the disease, it's quite likely that another sinus tract will develop. If a recurrence flares up more than six months out from the original surgery, a new tract is likely the culprit.
Sometimes, your body doesn't properly recover from an excision procedure, so you may continue to suffer from the effects of your pilonidal sinus long after your initial surgery. This is different than a true recurrence but can still require additional treatment. In the video below, a doctor discusses that situation:
How Can You Prevent a Pilonidal Recurrence?
With proper treatment and post-surgery care, you may be able to reduce your chances of a recurrent pilonidal cyst.
Choose the Right Treatment
Some pilonidal sinus treatments have better long-term success rates than others. It's possible that by choosing the best treatment for your particular case, you can help protect yourself.
For example, laser ablation of a sinus tract is a promising treatment for this condition. Studies have shown its recurrence rate to be just 2.9 percent.
No matter what type of procedure you have for pilonidal disease, it is important to follow your doctor's post-care directions. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing an infection at the surgical site.
All wounds should be cleaned carefully and kept dry. An open surgical site requires regular packing during the healing process.
Remove Excess Hair
Because people with a lot of body hair are more likely to develop pilonidal sinuses, you may be advised to remove hair in the buttocks area.
Shaving and depilatory lotions are sometimes recommended as hair removal methods. Laser hair removal is another promising option. In one study, people who had laser epilation experienced a recurrence rate of only 2.3 percent after a few years.
Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can help reduce pressure on the cleft of your buttocks. This may lower the chances of a hair forcing its way under the skin.
Additionally, an active lifestyle can help you lose weight. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing pilonidal sinuses, so shedding pounds can help lessen your chances of a recurrence.
Now that you are knowledgeable about how to prevent recurrent pilonidal cyst, you can do your best to protect yourself against the development of a subsequent sinus tract. Talk to your doctor about the most effective treatment for your situation, and then do your best to take care of yourself after the procedure.
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.