Pilonidal disease happens when ingrown hairs in the crease between the buttocks cause irritation and infections of the skin. At Children’s Health℠, we offer expert care for kids with pilonidal disease at our specialized wound clinic, and we take extra steps to make treatment as easy and comfortable as possible.
Pilonidal cysts look like a small dimple or, in severe cases, they can be as large as a golf ball. If they go untreated, pilonidal disease typically gets worse. Patients may experience the following:
Doctors can diagnose pilonidal disease with a physical exam. They’ll be able to see the infection with the naked eye, assess how severe it is, and determine the best treatment for your child. Ultrasounds or other images are usually not needed.
Hormone changes in teenagers and young adults, as well as individual anatomy, can cause hair follicles to grow into the skin, leading to pilonidal disease. Things that irritate this area – such as tight clothing, long periods of sitting or activities like horseback riding or bike riding – can contribute to the disease.
Our team uses both surgical and non-operative approaches to treat pilonidal disease. For many patients, the disease may come back after initial treatment, and we provide treatment over several weeks to months. We will evaluate your child’s condition and pick the best treatment option for them. Treatments include:
For most children, we’ll start by treating pilonidal disease by soaking the area to reduce swelling and infection. Some children may also need oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
The mainstay of successfully treating pilonidal disease and keeping it from coming back is hair removal. This can be achieved through shaving, although it is important to shave the hair along the edges of the wound which is often challenging. Laser hair removal or chemical hair removal can be better options. Your physician or wound care nurse can provide for information about hair removal options.
If your child has a pilonidal abscess, our team may need to drain it to get rid of the infection, helping it heal faster and relieve pain. Doctors will explain this process to you and your child, and help kids understand what to expect. To drain the abscess, our team will:
At Children’s Health, we do everything we can to treat pilonidal disease without surgery. However, surgery can be the best option for patients who have severe pilonidal disease or for kids whose disease keeps coming back.
At Children’s Health, we have male and female surgeons — and many kids feel more comfortable with a doctor of their gender. Most kids go home the same day that they undergo one of these simple procedures:
Our team has cared for many children with pilonidal disease, ranging from the mildest to the most severe. Our nurses and doctors take extra steps to make kids and teens feel comfortable while they’re with us, providing quick access to care and making treatment as comfortable as possible. Our care team includes: