Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z: Pilonidal Cyst

May also be called: Pilonidal Abscess; Pilonidal Sinus; Pilonidal Disease

A pilonidal (pie-luh-NIE-dul) cyst is a pocket (or pit) filled with hair and skin debris that usually forms in the skin near the end of the tailbone (coccyx) in the upper part of the cleft between the buttocks.

More to Know

Most doctors believe pilonidal cysts begin to form when a loose hair penetrates the skin and is forced deeper into the skin by friction and pressure from long periods of sitting, tight clothing, bicycling, or other causes. The body's immune system treats the hair as a foreign substance and forms a cyst around it that fills with fluid.


Pilonidal cysts may become infected and fill with pus. They can also penetrate deeper in the tissues and form a channel called a sinus tract. A pilonidal cyst might have no visible symptoms other than a small dimple in the skin. Cysts that become infected can be painful, tender, and swollen and may begin to drain fluid or blood.

Keep in Mind

If pilonidal cysts get infected, they can really hurt and should be treated. Treatment depends on how severe the cyst is, but can involve sitz baths, warm compresses, antibiotics, and a minor procedure to incise (lance and drain) the infected cyst, or surgery to clean out the cyst and sinus tract. Surgery is relatively simple, and a person typically heals completely within a few weeks. However, pilonidal cysts can recur (happen again).

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.