Pilonidal Cyst Causes: Why Does It Develop?

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  • There are multiple factors on why pilonidal cysts occur and why they become inflamed through time. Some of these mainly revolve around hygiene problems and lifestyle
  • People who have excessive hair growth above the buttocks have a higher risk of getting pilonidal cysts because of the increased chances of the skin getting irritated

There are multiple factors on why pilonidal cysts occur and why they become inflamed through time. Some of these mainly revolve around hygiene problems and lifestyle.

Pilonidal cysts usually develop when a hair growing in the sacral area is pushed back towards the skin. The skin then detects it as a foreign body. Other physicians also say that ruptured hair follicles are what cause pilonidal cysts. This is usually brought on by tight clothing, constant friction or skin rubbing against skin.

Other factors for pilonidal cyst growth include:1

  • Excessive hair growth. People who have excessive hair growth above the buttocks have a higher risk of getting pilonidal cysts because of the increased chances of the skin getting irritated.
  • Poor hygiene. Hygiene is one of the most important factors in preventing a pilonidal cyst from developing. Habitual exfoliation and cleansing of that area will help you avoid this condition.2
  • Obesity. Being overweight or obese may predispose a patient to pilonidal cysts because of the increased pressure on the coccyx area. The deeper natal cleft in overweight patients, which promotes more moisture and debris buildup, may be a risk factor as well.3
  • Having a sedentary lifestyle. People who sit for extended periods of time at home or work have a higher chance of developing pilonidal cysts because of the constant contact between their chair and the buttock cleft.4
  • Being born with a pilonidal dimple. About 3 percent of babies are born with a sacral dimple,5 which may heighten their risk of developing a pilonidal cyst later in life.

Why Are Men More at Risk for Pilonidal Cysts?

There is no clear reason as to why this condition is more prevalent in men than in women, with Caucasian men taking the leading spot.6 One of the possible reasons is because men have thicker hair, which may contribute to the development of a cyst once the skin gets irritated. It is usually observed more in younger men than in older men, but may affect people of all ages. Most patients belong to the 20- to 40-year-old age group.7

However, this does not mean that women do not suffer from pilonidal cysts. Some female patients note that pilonidal cysts may even flare-up during the menstrual cycle because of the spikes in hormone levels.8

Possible Complications of Pilonidal Cysts

Pilonidal sinus disease patients can suffer from multiple complications, especially when the cysts are not correctly taken care of. Some examples of these include:

  • Cyst reoccurrence. There is a high risk of reoccurrence in patients who don’t get their cysts removed surgically, with about 40 to 50 percent of patients developing a pilonidal cyst again. The reason for a reoccurrence is the same for the development of the initial abscess.9
  • Systemic infection. When the pilonidal cyst becomes infected, there is a high chance that this infection may spread to other body systems. The spread of the infection starts with the surrounding skin, and may start infecting blood vessels, thus spreading the bacteria to the other parts of the body.10
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. The development of cancer stemming from a pilonidal cyst is extremely rare, with 0.1 percent of patients developing it from this condition. The chronic inflammatory response in the sacral area functions as a trigger for cancer cell development.11

MORE ABOUT PILONIDAL CYST

Pilonidal Cyst: Introduction

What Is a Pilonidal Cyst?

Pilonidal Cyst Symptoms

Pilonidal Cyst Causes

Pilonidal Cyst Treatment

Pilonidal Cyst Surgery

Pilonidal Cyst Prevention

Pilonidal Cyst Diet

Pilonidal Cyst FAQ

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