What to Do if Your Pilonidal Cyst Pops
Inflamed pilonidal cysts can be excruciating. Whether you lie still or move around, you may be in terrible pain. If the cyst suddenly pops, you may feel relief, but you'll also have a mess on your hands.
Knowing what to do if your pilonidal cyst pops will help you address the mess and figure out what to do next.
Understanding the Contents of a Pilonidal Cyst
An infected pilonidal cyst often looks like a tender, swollen lump near the cleft of the buttocks. The main issue, however, is down deep below the surface of your skin. A pilonidal cyst is an unnatural channel that leads from the skin to a hollow area within the tissue.
The condition is more aptly known as a pilonidal sinus rather than a pilonidal cyst. But no matter which name you use, it describes a problem that can be quite uncomfortable.
Over time, the pilonidal cavity can accumulate an assortment of debris. Bits of hair are quite common. Dead skin cells may gather there too, and oil from the skin can make its way in.
Bacteria may take up residence in the cyst as well. As the bacteria multiply, a serious pilonidal infection can begin. The space may fill up with fluids like blood and pus.
When your pilonidal sinus pops, all of that debris, from pus to hair, may burst out of the opening.
In the video below, you can see a medical team draining a pilonidal abscess during an in-office procedure. This can give you a good idea of how much material may drain from your pilonidal sinus.
It's always best to have your pilonidal cyst professionally drained like this instead of letting it pop at home. If yours hasn't yet popped, seek medical care before that happens.
Keeping the Site Clean
One of the biggest concerns with a pilonidal sinus that pops at home is the risk of spreading infection. This is why you should never intentionally pop a cyst at home, and you should try to seek medical attention before yours bursts spontaneously.
If yours does suddenly pop, it's important to do the best that you can to clean up the mess. To begin with, rinse off in the shower. Use soap and warm water to gently clean up.
Keeping up with hygiene until you can see a doctor is very important. You may want to soak regularly in a warm bath. Not only is this helpful for keeping clean, but the warm water may also feel soothing. Some people recommend adding Epsom salt to the bathwater.
After washing, be sure to dry yourself thoroughly before getting dressed. A damp wound is an ideal breeding ground for infection.
You may want to take extra steps to address the issue of bacteria. Some doctors advise applying hydrogen peroxide to the wound. Doing so may help reduce bacterial growth, minimize odor and remove debris.
Make sure that all affected clothing goes straight into the wash. When dealing with infectious material, experts usually recommend washing items on the warmest possible cycle for the fabric. Standard laundry detergent is sufficient; bleach is not necessary.
A popped pilonidal cyst may continue to drain blood and pus for quite a while. Being proactive with a plan to catch these leaks can help prevent unsightly wet spots and stained clothing.
Placing a sanitary napkin or an incontinence pad inside your underwear is usually the easiest way to address this issue. The doctor may eventually choose to pack the wound with gauze, but an absorbent pad will work for now.
The material that comes out of a pilonidal cyst usually has an unpleasant odor. Keep in mind that sanitary pads may not fully address this issue. If possible, you may want to lie low for a few days until there is some resolution to the smell.
Following Up with Your Doctor
Although you now know what to do if your pilonidal cyst pops, these at-home care tips aren't a substitute for seeking medical treatment. After your pilonidal sinus bursts, call your care provider for an appointment.
If a large amount of liquid and debris came out of your ruptured cyst, you might assume that the cavity is completely empty now. That's probably not the case though. You may still have a good deal of hair and dead cells trapped under the skin. A doctor can clean out the sinus more effectively, reducing the chance that a new infection will develop.
The doctor may also pack the wound with gauze to absorb additional drainage. You may be taught how to remove this dressing and replace it as needed. Don't try to pack the wound on your own without first being instructed how to do so; otherwise, you may use too much gauze.
It's possible that your doctor will recommend additional treatment, such as pilonidal cyst surgery. Such procedures are often advised for people who have experienced repeated pilonidal infections.
If surgery is in your future, ask your doctor about the possibility of laser ablation with the neoV Laser. This treatment boasts a high rate of effectiveness yet a shorter recovery time than traditional excision surgeries for pilonidal sinuses.
Although it's best for a pilonidal sinus to drain only under the supervision of a medical professional, you now know what to do if your pilonidal cyst pops.
With your doctor's help, you can learn to care for the wound, prevent future recurrences and, if necessary, make a plan for surgical pilonidal sinus treatment, such as laser ablation.
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.