Pilonidal sinus

Alternative Names:pilonidal cyst, pilonidal abscess or sacrococcygeal fistula

Definition:
A pilonidal sinus is a dimple in the skin in the crease of your child’s buttocks.

This may be noted at birth as a depression or hairy dimple and be present for many years without any symptoms.
Pilonidal sinus affect men more often and most commonly occur in young adults.


You may click to see picture

Two pilonidal cysts in the natal cleft
A pilonidal sinus may also occur due to a blockage in the hair follicles, often associated with an ingrown hair.
In both situations, hair acts as a foreign body, which may produce an infection. The infection may spread into the tissues of your child’s buttocks and produce an abscess (collection of pus under the skin) at a site several inches away from the sinus.

Pilonidal means “nest of hair”, and is derived from the Latin words for hair (“pilus”) and nest (“nidus”).The term was used by Herbert Mayo as early as 1830. R.M. Hodges was the first to use the phrase “pilonidal cyst” to describe the condition in 1880.

Symptoms:
A pilonidal sinus may cause no noticeable symptoms (asymptomatic). The only sign of its presence may be a small pit on the surface of the skin.

When it’s infected, a pilonidal sinus becomes a swollen mass (abscess). Signs and symptoms of an infected pilonidal cyst include:

*Pain
*Localized swelling
*Reddening of the skin
*Drainage of pus or blood from an opening in the skin (pilonidal sinus)
*Foul smell from draining pus

Hair protruding from a passage (tract) below the surface of the skin that connects the infected pilonidal cyst to the opening on the skin’s surface (a pilonidal sinus) — more than one sinus tract may form
Fever (uncommon)

Causes:
Quite why it happens isn’t entirely clear. When they occur in the cleft between the buttocks, one popular explanation is that there’s a developmental defect in the direction that the hair grows – that is, the hair grows inwards rather than outwards.

One proposed cause of pilonidal cysts is ingrown hair. Excessive sitting is thought to predispose people to the condition because they increase pressure on the coccyx region. Trauma is not believed to cause a pilonidal cyst; however, such an event may result in inflammation of an existing cyst. However there are cases where this can occur months after a localized injury to the area. Some researchers have proposed that pilonidal cysts may be the result of a congenital pilonidal dimple. Excessive sweating can also contribute to the cause of a pilonidal cyst.

The condition was widespread in the United States Army during World War II. More than eighty thousand soldiers having the condition required hospitalization.  It was termed “jeep seat or “Jeep riders’ disease”, because a large portion of people who were being hospitalized for it rode in jeeps, and prolonged rides in the bumpy vehicles were believed to have caused the condition due to irritation and pressure on the coccyx.

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Risk Factors:
Certain factors can make you more susceptible to developing pilonidal cysts. These include:

*Obesity
*Inactive lifestyle
*Occupation or sports requiring prolonged sitting
*Excess body hair
*Stiff or coarse hair
*Poor hygiene
*Excess sweating

Complications:
If a chronically infected pilonidal cyst isn’t treated properly, there may be an increased risk of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

Differential diagnosis
A pilonidal sinus can resemble a dermoid cyst, a kind of teratoma (germ cell tumor). In particular, a pilonidal cyst in the gluteal cleft can resemble a sacrococcygeal teratoma. Correct diagnosis is important because all teratomas require complete surgical excision, if possible without any spillage, and consultation with an oncologist.

Treatment :
Treatment may include antibiotic therapy, hot compresses and application of depilatory creams.

In more severe cases, the cyst may need to be lanced or surgically excised (along with pilonidal sinus tracts). Post-surgical wound packing may be necessary, and packing typically must be replaced twice daily for 4 to 8 weeks. In some cases, one year may be required for complete granulation to occur. Sometimes the cyst is resolved via surgical marsupialization.

Surgeons can also excise the sinus and repair with a reconstructive flap technique, which is done under general anesthetic. This approach is mainly used for complicated or recurring pilonidal disease, leaves little scar tissue and flattens the region between the buttocks, reducing the risk of recurrence.

Picture of Pilonidal cyst two days after surgery.

A novel and less destructive treatment is scraping the tract out and filling it with fibrin glue. This has the advantage of causing much less pain than traditional surgical treatments and allowing return to normal activities after 1–2 days in most cases.

Pilonidal cysts recur and do so more frequently if the surgical wound is sutured in the midline, as opposed to away from the midline, which obliterates the natal cleft and removes the focus of shearing stress.

Prevention:
To prevent future pilonidal sinus from developing:

*Clean the area daily with glycerin soap, which tends to be less irritating. Rinse the area thoroughly to remove any soapy residue. Washing briskly with a washcloth helps keep the area free of hair accumulation.

*Keep the area clean and dry. Powders may help, but avoid using oils or herbal remedies.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilonidal_sinus
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pilonidal-cyst/DS00747
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/pilonidalsinus.shtml
http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site923/mainpageS923P0.html

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One thought on “Pilonidal sinus”

  1. This is a really debilitating condition. I have heard of people who have had to give up work because of an infected pilonidal sinus. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy…

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