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Pilonidal Sinus

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A pilonidal sinus (PNS) is an inflamed hair filled channel that occurs in the natal cleft. It is more common in men.

What is pilonidal sinus?

Pilonidal disease is related to hair which gets under the skin. Germs can build up among the hairs and debris within the sinus causing swelling, discharge and infection. This hole may fill with fluid or pus, leading to a cyst (a sac filled with fluid and hair) or abscess (a sac of pus).

What are the symptoms of pilonidal sinus?

If you have a pilonidal sinus, you might not notice any symptoms at first apart from a small, dimple-like depression on the skin. This can lay dormant for a very long time.

Signs of an infection include:

  • Small lump in your natal cleft (between your buttocks)
  • Pain when sitting or standing
  • Swelling of the cyst
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Lump leaking pus or blood
  • Foul smell
  • Hair in the lesion
  • Formation of more than one sinus tract or holes in the skin

Some people also experience a mild fever.

What causes pilonidal sinus?

It’s not clear what causes a pilonidal sinus, but it is thought that you are either born with the pits in the skin or hairs get massaged under the skin from movement.

How is pilonidal sinus diagnosed?

If you have a lump between your buttocks you think is a pilonidal sinus, see your doctor. To help make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical examination.

How is pilonidal sinus treated?

A pilonidal sinus can burst by itself or may be relieved by antibiotics. However, surgery is often recommended to treat the cause of your pilonidal sinus. There are various procedures to treat this condition and one of our experts will discuss which is the right one for you

If you think you may have this problem our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Professor Richard Cohen  ›

Professor Richard Cohen is a Colorectal Consultant at King Edward VII’s Hospital.

Find your specialist in pilonidal sinus at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have pilonidal sinus and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading colorectal specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Eric Alexandre Chung  ›
Special interests include:
Colorectal cancer (+ 11) more
Professor Richard Cohen  ›
Special interests include:
Colorectal surgery (+ 11) more
Mr Roger Springall  ›
Special interests include:
General surgery (+ 13) more
Mr Alexander Von Roon  ›
Special interests include:
Colorectal cancer (+ 30) more

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