The word “pilonidal” may sound foreign to most people. When I first mentioned that I have a pilonidal to family members, I received confused looks. The word “pilonidal” means “nest of hairs.” Basically, a pilonidal abscess is a large boil near the tailbone.
A pilonidal is an abscess which occurs in the natal cleft, or in layman’s terms, the crack of the buttocks. The pilonidal is typically found near the tailbone. Pilonidal abscesses occur most frequently in men, but pilonidal abscesses do plague women.
Symptoms of Infected Pilonidal Abscess
The first symptom of an infected pilonidal abscess is tenderness when sitting and walking. This tenderness may cause pain for a moment or it may be persistent. The pain associated with a pilonidal abscess may change in intensity based on the position of the body.
Sometimes the pain only lasts for a day or so. If the pain increases, there is a good chance the pilonidal abscess is just increasing. The symptom which provides the most discomfort is when the abscess swells. When the pilonidal abscess swells, it fills up with a foul-smelling pus and blood. The swollen pilonidal abscess is very tender to the touch and may prevent the carrying out of daily details. When the pilonidal abscess has reached this point, medical attention is needed as soon as possible.
Prevention of Infected Pilonidal Abscess
There are some ways to prevent a pilonidal abscess from becoming infected. The number one prevention is hygiene. Daily showers are a must for preventing a pilonidal abscess from becoming infected. Always wash the area after washing hair and the rest of the body.
Some people are prone to having acne and boils on their buttocks, which could increase the chances of having an infected pilonidal abscess. Shampoos and conditioners with a high oil count may be a cause a for recurrent infected pilonidal abscesses. Shampoos and conditioners with less oil should be used to prevent infected pilonidal abscesses.
Pilonidal abscesses are generally caused by an ingrown hair which burrows deeper each time the pilonidal abscess becomes infected. A hair removal product can be of great help when preventing infected pilonidal abscesses. Hair removal products such as Nair and Tend Skin should do the trick for removing the hairs from the area.
Treating an Infected Pilonidal Abscess
Due to the swelling and the presences of pus in the infected pilonidal abscess, draining should be the immediate course of action. Sometimes a pilonidal abscesses will drain on its own, but most will need medical attention. The draining of a pilonidal abscess is performed by a doctor, typically by a surgeon. The doctor will apply a numbing agent to the pilonidal abscess, followed by lancing. Sometimes the doctor will need to cut an opening to allow the fluid to drain from the abscess. Following the procedure, the doctor will usually prescribe a narcotic pain reliever. Following the procedure, the doctor will want to check the abscess every few days to make sure the abscess is healing and draining properly.
Even if the pilonidal abscess has been drained, antibiotics will usually be prescribed. The antibiotic will kill the bacteria, usually E. coli, inside of the pilonidal abscess. Sometimes antibiotics are used alone, without lancing, for treating infected pilonidal abscesses. Antibiotics are given in ten day durations.
In some severe cases of recurring pilonidal abscesses, there is a need to remove the entire abscess by a procedure known as excision. This procedure normally occurs in the same-day surgery clinic by a surgeon who specializes in the buttocks area. The excision will increase the chances of the pilonidal abscess to remain dormant, but only be a small percentage. Following the excision, it takes about four to six weeks for the area to completely heal. Follow-up exams are recommended to ensure proper healing of the area.