Pilonidal disease is a chronic infection of the skin in the crease between the buttocks just below the tailbone. The condition can occur when hair follicles in this area become plugged with hair and debris. If infection and irritation under the skin continue, a tract (pilonidal sinus) may form. Once a pilonidal sinus is present, hair may move into the tract and establish a nest of hair under the skin. This may become infected and become a pilonidal abscess.
Pilonidal disease is common and can happen to anyone. It most often happens to teenagers. Boys are three to four times more likely to have pilonidal disease than girls. Factors that increase the risk of pilonidal disease include family history, tight clothing, prolonged sitting and repetitive trauma to the tailbone (horseback riding, bicycling). It is also more common in patients who have a lot of body hair, are overweight or have poor hygiene in the affected area.
Treatment options for pilonidal disease
There are several preventive, non-surgical and surgical options. After meeting with a member of the team, a treatment plan will be developed which may include:
- Hygiene program
- Laser hair removal
- Minimally invasive excision (called a “trephination” procedure)
- Additional surgery for more complex conditions
Due to the infections and possible recurrences, this condition can be frustrating for patients and families. The Pilonidal Care Team at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital is here to help you and to be your resource during treatment.