What is pilonidal disease?
Pilonidal disease is a chronic skin problem found most often in the sacrococcygeal region. This is the cleft between the buttocks just below the base of the spine. It is characterised by one or more sinus tracts; these are cavities with a narrow opening on the skin surface (pilonidal sinus). In most cases, the cavity is filled with nests of hair, hence the name pilonidal (pilus meaning hair and nidal meaning nest). A non-inflamed lump is known as a pilonidal cyst. If the sinus becomes infected a pilonidal abscess may form.
Pilonidal disease usually occurs in young, hairy white men but can also occur in women. A pilonidal sinus can cause pain and swelling. To distinguish pilonidal disease from other infections, a doctor looks for pits-tiny holes in or next to the infected area. Generally, a pilonidal abscess must be cut and drained by a doctor. Usually, a pilonidal sinus must be removed surgically.