Pilonidal Cyst

Pilonidal cysts are cysts in the upper buttock region that often get infected and become a painful boil or abscess.  They form at the base of the tailbone at the gluteal cleft (crease at the very top of the buttocks). Pilonidal in Latin means “nest of hair”.  It is felt that pilonidal cysts may form due to the hair growing inward from prolonged pressure or friction on the buttocks. These cysts are more common in males and people that sit for prolonged periods of time, as well as in individuals born with a congenital dimple at the gluteal cleft.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Drainage of fluid, blood or pus with a strong odor
  • May be asymptomatic


  • Early in the infection, one can apply a clean, warm compress several times per day or take warm water baths to try to help pull the infectious fluid to the surface to open and drain on its own
  • In general, antibiotics do not heal a pilonidal cyst. It needs to open and drain. Antibiotics may be added if a procedure is done to help prevent any spread of infection
  • Pilonidal cysts often need to be incised and drained by a healthcare provider or may need to be surgically removed depending on severity


  • Avoid prolonged sitting
  • Keep area clean and dry


Once your cyst has been drained, it is common to have a packing inserted into the opening to allow the cyst to heal from the inside out. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on how to care for your dressing. Also, It is not uncommon for pilonidal cysts to recur.