What to Do if Pilonidal Cyst Burst? Here’s the Answer With Proper Treatment!

You may have heard of pilonidal cysts before, but you might not be completely aware of them. Pilonidal cysts are sacral body fluid (SBF) filled cysts that can develop at the bottom edge of your tailbone or coccyx.

Got a little confused? Here’s an easier version of it!

Pilonidal cysts are pesky little blemishes (abnormal pockets) on the skin containing skin debris and hair. They are always located on the cleft of the buttocks at the top near the tailbone. It appears like a pimple, which can get infected with pus, an excruciating infection known as a pilonidal abscess.

But this isn’t it. A pilonidal cyst burst may occur in the later stages, discharging pus and blood out of it. Curious about that? Don’t worry, as this blog mainly focuses on that!

Read on to learn more about a Pilonidal cyst, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment. 

What Is a Pilonidal Cyst?

A pilonidal cyst contains skin debris and misplaced hair follicles. It is formed above the sacrum, at the top of the buttock’s crease.

pilonidal-cyst

The friction on your hair at the buttock’s crease from sitting or rubbing can irritate your skin and cause a pilonidal cyst. The probability rate is the highest in young men, yet, anyone can still become a victim of this skin infection. Small incisions or minor surgery can help to treat it.

Infected Pilonidal Cyst

If a pilonidal cyst becomes infected and filled with pus, it is known as an abscess. This condition is harrowing, cannot be treated with antibiotics, and requires surgical procedures. Surgical drainage and incision are a must to treat a pilonidal abscess.

If the pilonidal cyst burst occurs, blood or pus might get discharged.

Causes of Pilonidal Cyst

The exact cause of this painful cyst is still unknown. However, it could be either a congenital deformity. It could also be due to the inward pushing of hair between the buttocks due to skin infection, friction, or pressure (ingrown hairs). Sitting for more extended periods is also supposed to be a probable cause.

However, this topic is still under significant debate, and the primary cause is believed to be a combination of all, although being still unknown!

Risk Factors for Pilonidal Cyst

Following are some concerning risk factors for the development of a pilonidal cyst:

  • Male sex (male predominance)
  • Young age (common in people in their 20s)
  • Sedentary (inactive) lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Tight clothing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Stiff body hair
  • Family history

Signs and Symptoms of Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal cysts are not always painful and may go unnoticed for years. However, when they become infected, there can be symptoms like pain and inflammation. Some primary symptoms include:

  • Worsening pain while sitting (studies have revealed a pilonidal cyst pain level of 6.5 that’s excruciating)
  • Reddening and a feeling of inflammation
  • Swelling of the inflamed region
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and fatigue
  • Discharge of Pilonidal cyst burst blood or pus
  • Foul-smelling

Diagnosis of a Pilonidal Cyst

If your pilonidal cyst got infected, immediately consult your doctor. He may diagnose it through a physical examination of the lesion. It appears like a fluid-filled painful lump or abscess. Its location is a characteristic of diagnosing a pilonidal cyst, i.e., at the top of the crease of the buttocks.

My Pilonidal Cyst Has Burst: What Should I Do?

Usually, draining pilonidal cysts through a surgical incision is considered best for treating them. Sometimes you might suffer from a query that my pilonidal cyst burst, but you don’t know what to do next.

It’s a good thing when the cyst pops up, as you may feel relief from the terrifying pain and pressure. However, some cleanup will be required as there’s some mess on your hands too!

The best way to deal with this annoying cyst is by knowing what to do if a pilonidal cyst bursts. Don’t worry, as we are here to clear your confusion!

What Happens If a Pilonidal Cyst Bursts?

The event of Pilonidal cyst bursting is an awful sight. When your pilonidal sinus pops, pus and blood might come out with an explosion and keep draining for quite a while. You might experience a putrid and vile pilonidal cyst burst smell that can sometimes be horrendous.

pilonidal-cyst-formation

To avoid the hassle of dealing with unsightly wet spots and stained clothing, be proactive by using a plan to catch these leaks before they happen.

The easiest way to address this issue is by placing a sanitary napkin or incontinence pad inside your underwear. This way, you can prevent your clothing from being fouled and nasty by the mess!

How to Clean a Popped Pilonidal Cyst?

Once the pilonidal cyst has burst, it’s essential to clean it immediately. To help prevent the spread of infection, use soap and warm water to clean up blood or bodily fluids gently.

Also, try soaking in a warm bath regularly. The warmth and smoothness of a hot bath are both soothing and helpful in keeping you clean.

Later on, it’s better to consult your doctor for complete cleaning of the wound.

How Long Does It Take a Pilonidal Cyst to Burst?

There’s no exact period for this, but it can burst at any moment.

However, the cyst takes around 1-2 months to heal completely. It could take six months or more to recover if the infection worsens.

Will a Pilonidal Cyst Burst On Its Own?

Yes, a pilonidal cyst can burst on its own. Therefore, it is recommended not to snap it intentionally. If your cyst accidentally bursts, try applying home remedies to clean up the mess and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

However, sometimes your pilonidal cyst won’t burst. Remember that it’s always good to drain your cyst professionally rather than exploding it at home. Still, if it hasn’t popped yet, visit your doctor before it pops at home!

Pilonidal Cyst Treatment

Pilonidal cysts are usually drained by opening the wound and removing any infection.

pilonidal-cyst-treatment

An “incision & drainage” procedure, also known as an I&D, can be done using either local anesthesia or general ones, depending on what is more appropriate in each case. The I&D is a surgical procedure that removes pus and debris from the cyst cavity.

Are Antibiotics Effective in Treating Pilonidal Cyst?

Antibiotics are not required to treat simpler sinuses. However, in some cases, antibiotics may be necessary if the infection spreads into your skin and must be stopped quickly.

  • Use painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Antibiotics like Metronidazole (the most prescribed one), Erythromycin, Flucloxacillin, Clindamycin, Clarithromycin, etc., are effective in treating pilonidal cysts.
  • Try using antibiotic creams or ointments under your doctor’s prescription.

When to See a Doctor?

If your condition worsens after the incision, you should seek medical advice immediately. Contact your healthcare supervisor if;

  • Pus continues to drain from the wound even after 4-5 days of incision
  • Pain and redness persist to excruciate
  • Moderate to high fever appears after 2-3 days of incision

FAQs

What happens if a pilonidal cyst bursts?

If a pilonidal cyst bursts, blood and pus with a foul odor drain for a short period.

To avoid stained clothing and the mess created as in the consequences of a popped pilonidal cyst burst, try to be proactive, and opt for preventive measures like sanitary napkins or incontinence pads to avoid spreading the mess!

How do you treat a popped pilonidal cyst?

The only way to get rid of a pilonidal cyst is through surgery.

Still, there are some things you can do at home in the meantime that will ease pain and discomfort for many people, like applying hot wet compresses on the cyst several times per day!

Is it good if my pilonidal cyst is draining?

Even though the cyst isn’t infected with pus, opening and draining it is always recommended to relieve pain. 

The draining procedure is accompanied by a local anesthetic most of the time.

What does it mean if a pilonidal cyst is draining?

If your pilonidal cyst is draining, it is a good sign concerning your health. It means that your infection is heading toward healing. 

A cyst only gets drained when encountered by any infection (accumulation of pus in the cyst cavity).

Final Verdict

A pilonidal cyst appears like a sac-like pimple just above the tailbone. It is a severe condition in which hair punctures the skin and becomes embedded above the crease of the buttocks.

Although, till now, you must have been aware of what to do if your pilonidal cyst burst, it is still essential to consult your doctor once your cyst has popped.

Make sure to take care of proper hygiene if your cyst pops at home. Keep the wound dry and clean, and absorb all leaking fluids from the cyst in the time before visiting your doctor.

Your doctor might prescribe you an I&D or any antibiotics, depending upon the severity of your infection!

Minahil Laraib Asif

Minahil Laraib Asif

Hi, This is Minahil Laraib Asif, an MBBS student from Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) in Pakistan. Studying medicine is my passion, and the desire to live my life in service to humanity has led me to pursue my career in medicine. As a medical student, it's essential to know how to balance projects and work while maintaining a healthy social life. Investigating and exploring newer disclosures has always been a source of gratification for me. For this reason, I have developed my career in writing articles as well, since it brings me great delight while researching various projects, and presenting such information to people, that they may otherwise never come across.

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