Infected Pilonidal Cyst (Antibiotic Treatment)

A pilonidal cyst is a swelling that starts under the skin on the sacrum near the tailbone. It may look like a small dimple. It can fill with skin oils, hair, and dead skin cells. It may stay small or grow larger. It may become infected with normal skin bacteria because it often has an opening to the surface.

Causes

The cause of pilonidal cysts has been debated since they were first recognized. A cyst may be present at birth and go unnoticed. Injury, rubbing, or skin irritation may also cause pilonidal cysts. It can also be caused by an ingrown hair. The cause is most likely a combination of these things. Because some injury or irritation can lead to pilonidal cysts, they can be more common in people who sit or drive a lot for work.

Symptoms

A pilonidal cyst may be small and painless. If it becomes inflamed or infected, you may have these symptoms:

  • Swelling

  • Irritation or redness

  • Pain

  • Drainage

The cyst can swell and drain on its own. The swelling and drainage can come and go.

Treatment

A limited infection can be treated with antibiotics and home care. You have been given antibiotics to treat your infected pilonidal cyst.

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your wound at home:

  • Sit in a tub filled with about 6 inches of hot water. Keep the water hot for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Don't squeeze the pilonidal cyst or stick a needle in it to drain it. This will make the infection worse, or spread it.

  • Cover the cyst with a pad or something similar to keep it from becoming more irritated, damaged, and painful.

Medicines

  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, unless you were given a different pain medicine to use. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or have ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding. Also talk with your provider if you are taking blood-thinner medicines.

  • Take the antibiotics that you were prescribed until they are all gone. To make sure the infection is cured, it's important to finish the antibiotics even if the wound looks better.

  • Use antibiotic cream or ointment if your healthcare provider tells you to.  

Preventing future infections

Once this infection has healed, follow these tips to lower the risk for another infection:

  • Keep the area of the cyst clean by bathing or showering every day.

  • Don't wear tight-fitting clothing. This will help lessen sweat and irritation of the skin.

  • You may need surgery to completely remove the cyst if it keeps coming back. The surgery can only be done when the cyst is not infected. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

  • Watch for signs of infection listed below so that treatment may be started early.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Check your wound every day for the signs listed below.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pus coming from the cyst

  • Increasing local pain, redness, or swelling

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher for more than 2 days, or as directed by your healthcare provider

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