What Is a Pilonidal Sinus?
If you search for information on what could be causing pain in your tailbone, you might quickly stumble onto the possibility that you have a pilonidal sinus. Then you'll start to wonder, "What is a pilonidal sinus?"
The following guide can help you learn more about the basics of this condition, why it happens, and what it's like to have a pilonidal sinus.
Characteristics of a Pilonidal Sinus
The cleft of your buttocks is the spot at the top where the two sides come together. In that area, a small channel into the skin can develop. This tunnel may lead to a pocket within the tissue. For that reason, a pilonidal sinus is often mistakenly referred to as a pilonidal cyst.
This cavity can become packed with organic material. This may include bits of hair or dead skin. Fluid can also accumulate in the space.
Although a pilonidal sinus is an unnatural channel, you might not notice right away that you’ve developed one. In general, a sinus doesn’t make its presence known unless it becomes infected. When that happens, it causes pain or other unpleasant side effects. This situation may be called a pilonidal abscess.
This condition happens to men more often than women. In fact, it’s four times more common in males. Pilonidal disease happens most frequently in young adults, particularly those under 40 years of age. People who spend a lot of time sitting may be more likely to develop the condition.
Learn more details about pilonidal disease in the video below:
Pilonidal Sinus Development
Experts aren’t exactly sure how pilonidal disease begins. One of the most common explanations is that a coarse, stiff piece of hair pushes into the skin. The body reacts to this invasion by inflaming the tissue around it, and a cavity develops. Dead skin and other debris can then gather in the space.
Another possible explanation for pilonidal disease is that pressure on your buttocks can aggravate the hair follicles in the area. This irritation causes the tissue to develop inflammation or pits. As a hair follicle swells and changes, it pulls in debris, which stays trapped in the growing tract.
Some people are born with a small dimple in this area. Over time, it may gather bits of hair and skin. This buildup can lead to infection.
Symptoms of a Pilonidal Sinus
You may be able to feel a pilonidal cyst with your hands even if it isn’t infected. It may present as a small bump near your buttocks. Although it might not bother you, it can be a good idea to go ahead and have a doctor check out any suspicious irregularities.
If it turns out that you do have a pilonidal sinus, your doctor can provide tips that might help you avoid developing an infection. The doctor can also keep an eye on it in order to catch problems before they become serious.
When a pilonidal sinus becomes irritated, you're more likely to notice its presence. You may feel pain in your upper buttocks area, and what was once a small bump may turn into a large, swollen lump. It may leak blood, pus or other fluids. As an infection develops, you might start to run a fever and feel bad all over.
What to Do If You Suspect a Pilonidal Sinus
Only a doctor can properly diagnose a pilonidal sinus. If you find out that you have a sinus tract, but it hasn’t yet become infected, proper hygiene may help reduce the likelihood of developing an infection. Be sure to thoroughly clean the area and dry it well after washing.
Once a sinus becomes infected, oral antibiotics can help eliminate the bacteria. To further clear up the infection, your doctor may clean out the sinus and drain fluid from it. However, these treatments cannot remove the channel, and reinfection may occur.
Repeat infections may require surgical treatment. Options include laying open the sinus tract or sealing it shut with a laser coagulation procedure.
Now you can answer the question "What is a pilonidal sinus?" You know that a pilonidal sinus is an opening in the skin near the top of the buttocks. It may be caused by hair in the area, which can irritate the tissue and cause inflammation. Not all sinuses cause symptoms, but those that become infected may swell, hurt, bleed or leak pus, and clearing up the problem may require a surgical treatment.
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.