Why You Shouldn’t Treat Your Pilonidal Cyst at Home

It’s understandable that you hesitate to run to the doctor for every medical problem and instead turn to DIY to remedy the problem, especially one as seemingly benign as an embedded hair on your buttocks. But given its location and risk for recurrence and infection, this is one small problem that can benefit from medical expertise to save yourself from a far more painful issue down the road.

At our practice, colorectal specialist Dr. Gabriel Akopian treats a wide range of issues, from more serious colon cancers to the less serious topical problems, such as hemorrhoids or pilonidal cysts. But we hesitate to say “less serious” because any problem that runs the risk of infection is potentially serious. Thankfully, avoiding this risk is as simple as coming in to see us so that we can treat your problem correctly the first time.

Here’s a look at what a pilonidal cyst is and why it’s unwise to treat it at home.

Behind your pilonidal cyst

A pilonidal cyst almost always develops near your tailbone at the top of your buttocks and occurs when a loose hair becomes embedded in your skin. This can happen because of friction, and once the hair penetrates the skin, your body reacts to the “invader” by forming a cyst around it.

This condition typically strikes men far more than women for two reasons: Men are more apt to grow hair in that area and the hair is often coarser than it is in women, which means it can penetrate the skin more easily.

There are certain factors that put you more at risk of developing a pilonidal cyst, such as:

For reasons unknown, pilonidal cysts can often recur, making them a chronic problem.

In their cyst form, pilonidal disease isn’t terribly serious, but if the cyst becomes infected, a very painful abscess can form. In very rare cases, a chronically infected pilonidal cyst can increase your risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.

Why medical resolution of your pilonidal cyst is best

If you develop a pilonidal cyst, you may be tempted to just perform a little “bathroom surgery” to get the embedded hair out rather than seek medical help. There are several reasons why we caution against doing this:

Poor reach

Let’s first start with a logistical reason why treating your pilonidal cyst at home is a bad idea — you can’t effectively reach it on your own. If you’ve ever tried to do anything in a mirror, you understand how difficult this is as your reflection is, well, a mirror image where your movements are opposite to what you see.

When you come in, Dr. Akopian can easily access and remedy the issue in just a few minutes.

Risk of infection

As we mentioned above, a pilonidal cyst isn’t necessarily painful — unless it becomes infected. The resulting abscess can be extremely uncomfortable, and given its location it can have a far-reaching impact on your life because sitting can become nearly impossible when the cyst is swollen and sensitive.

One of the easiest ways for these cysts to become infected is by trying to resolve the issue at home under less-than-sterile circumstances. Here again, a quick trip to Dr. Akopian ensures that your cyst is removed under the best possible conditions to reduce your risk of infection. As well, if your cyst was already infected, the odds are good that Dr. Akopian will place you on a course of antibiotics.

One and done

Lastly, home remedies aren’t exactly clinical and designed for the long haul. Since pilonidal cysts tend to recur, it’s best that you see Dr. Akopian so that he can address the immediate cyst and come up with a long-term plan for avoiding them down the road.

To have your pilonidal cyst expertly and quickly treated, please contact our office in Pasadena, California, at 626-788-4095.

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