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Pilonidal sinus is a very common anorectal disease. But most people are not aware of the condition. Even if they are aware of, talking or consulting about anorectal problems with another person is not comfortable for all. Like any other health problem, pilonidal sinus too has a tendency of creating complications in a person’s regular life. These complications can aggravate if not treated on time. This content piece is intended to make readers aware of pilonidal sinus, the causes, and symptoms of the disease, and the different lines of treatments.
A Pilonidal sinus is a small tunnel or hole in the skin that gets filled with pus, fluid, and debris causing the formation of a cyst or abscess. A pilonidal sinus occurs in the cleft at the top of the buttocks. Along with fluid and debris, a pilonidal sinus is often filled with hair and dirt. The condition can lead to severe pain and the infection is likely to spread to the nearby body parts if not treated on time. When infected, a pilonidal sinus may ooze pus and infected blood and emit a foul smell.
Pilonidal sinus is basically a skin problem. When there is too much friction and pressure in the anal area, the hair between the buttocks gets pushed inward. This may either be caused by the hairs growing around the buttocks or due to the loose hair shed from the buttocks area that gathers around the cleft and gets into the pilonidal sinus.
Acute pilonidal sinus
Chronic pilonidal sinus
If it is a case of a prominent and severe pilonidal sinus, the anorectal specialist will be able to diagnose it just through physical examination. In case the doctor cannot evaluate the condition just by looking at the pilonidal cyst, the following tests are recommended for diagnosis. Common tests which are done to pilonidal sinus piles are:
1. Digital examination – In this test, the proctologist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check if there are any kind of abnormal growths. The test also confirms the depth of the tunnel and how far the condition has grown.
2. Visual inspection – In visual inspection, the pilonidal sinus specialist might examine the lower rectum using a proctoscope, an anoscope, or a sigmoidoscope. Using any of these devices, the doctor will carefully examine the lining of your anal tissues to check the severity and growth of the tissues.
3. Lab swab test – In rare conditions, the proctologist might recommend the patient undergoes a lab swab test. During the test, the doctor takes tissues from the affected area and sends them for a biopsy. The test is done to check if the tissues have grown cancerous to determine the best line of treatment where the pilonidal sinus grows severe.
Self-diagnosis of pilonidal sinus is not very difficult if you are well aware of the symptoms. You can check for the prevalence of any of the pilonidal sinus symptoms and can evaluate yourself if you are suffering from the same. It is highly likely that your symptoms would always begin with pain and discomfort while sitting. A person with an infected pilonidal sinus may also experience pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area. There might also be a small opening (sinus tract) from where blood drainage might occur. Pay attention to your anal area react each time you make a bowel movement. Check for blood in your stool. But diagnosing the anal area and checking for the symptoms yourself could be tough, which is why it is advisable that you check your condition with a trained and experienced proctologist.
Most proctologists or anorectal surgeons diagnose piles through physical examination alone. Once you visit the doctor’s clinic, you are likely to be asked a few questions, including:
The proctologist may also do a digital rectal examination to diagnose the condition of your pilonidal sinus. The pilonidal sinus specialist may also suggest tests like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and anoscopy to check for the presence of any gastrointestinal disease. In all these tests, the doctor would insert a small camera to check for any abnormalities in the anus, rectum, and colon. If the doctor feels that your condition of pilonidal sinus is not very severe, the doctor may recommend medicines for the time being. But if the condition is severe, the doctor might recommend you undergoing advanced surgery for pilonidal sinus.
Pilonidal sinus surgery is not complex but one needs to make sure that he or she in the right hands. Undergoing the surgery at the hands of a trained doctor cuts down the chances of your risks significantly. But, like any other surgical treatment, the success or risks associated with pilonidal sinus treatment are also highly dependent upon the severity of the condition and the surgeon’s experience. Although not very common, a patient may suffer from any of the following conditions during or after the surgical treatment of pilonidal sinus.
When you leave the pilonidal sinus untreated for a long time, it can lead to abscesses that can get painful and swollen. Purulent discharge along with blood is also very likely to ooze out from the sinus tract. The discharge can be so smelly at times that it can lead to embarrassment and adversely affect a person’s personal as well as work life. If case a chronic pilonidal sinus is left untreated for a long time, the person has a higher risk of developing multiple sinus tracts. Having multiple sinus tracts can lead to unbearable pain and swelling. If a person leaves pilonidal sinus untreated or does not treat recurrent pilonidal sinus, he or she is at increased risk of skin cancer. This can further lead to skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. If left untreated, pilonidal sinus can also lead to fistula, a condition known as a pilonidal fistula -in – ano. Pilonidal fistula-in-and is the rarest complication that can happen due to untreated pilonidal sinus.
There is no accurate way to prevent pilonidal sinus. But there are definitely ways to reduce your risks of getting a pilonidal sinus. Here is a list of suggestions and tips that you can follow:
Knowing when to seek professional help for any health condition is extremely important for the right treatment of any anorectal disease including pilonidal sinus. Getting medical help at the right time can help you avoid unnecessary complications. Schedule an appointment with a reliable proctologist if the sinus tract becomes suddenly painful or swollen. This could be indicative of infection or rupture in the pilonidal sinus.
If you experience any of the following complications or conditions, it is time you check with an anorectal surgeon.
If there is no sign of inflammation or infection, the first line of treatment that the doctor is likely to suggest is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. A broad-spectrum antibiotic can treat a wide range of bacterial infections. The ointments do not heal the sinus tract but will provide symptomatic relief from the infection and pain. Your doctor is likely to recommend a follow-up test and maintain proper hygiene of the anal area.
Home remedies for pilonidal sinus are intended to provide temporary relief and not a permanent cure to the pain and swelling. Some of the common treatments for pilonidal sinus may include:
Cities Where We Treat Pilonidal sinus
Some of the symptoms to look out for Pilonidal Sinus are:
In some cases, a pilonidal sinus can heal on its own. But then it can recur and cause other infections also. Hence, it is recommended to undergo laser surgeries that provide permanent relief and it is completely painless.
You should not drain the cyst or the sinus at your own risk because it may increase the risk of infection in the affected area. If you do not have the access to sterile materials, bacteria can enter the wound which can further cause infection. Hence it is better if you consult with an experienced proctologist and undergo the treatment from a pilonidal specialist only.
The most common reason for recurrence of a pilonidal sinus is incomplete drainage of the cyst or the sinus tract. If the drainage of the cyst remains incomplete, the pilonidal sinus can recur in the near future. Later recurrence of the pilonidal sinus happens mainly due to tension and trauma in the midline cleft. In some other cases, the sinus reappears due to any infection that builds up and accumulates in the cleft area because the wound does not heal properly.
No, antibiotics can only provide relief from the symptoms and not the condition at large. Antibiotics do not provide a permanent cure to any anorectal disease including pilonidal sinus. If you experience swelling, redness, and itching in the anal area, using antibiotics can provide you relief from these symptoms. But if you are looking to drain the pilonidal sinus tract and get permanent relief, you should rely on surgical treatment.
Pilonidal sinus is a comparatively less painful surgery than any other form of anorectal surgery. But there may be instances where the person might feel some pain. In that case, the doctor is likely to prescribe pain medications and ointments for quick relief. Once you get relief from the pain, you can consult with your anorectal surgeon and stop taking the medicines.
If you go through with the laser procedure for pilonidal sinus treatment, the chances of encountering any problems or complications are negligible. Just make sure you take proper rest and follow all the postoperative instructions provided by your doctor and your recovery will be completely smooth.
A pilonidal cyst is a cyst filled with fluid or pus that forms near the natal cleft. On the other hand, a pilonidal sinus is a tunnel/channel that forms inside the natal cleft due to recurrent anaerobic infections in the region.
The risk of developing pilonidal sinus can depend upon factors like the shape of the buttocks and the extent of hair growth. Since these factors are genetic and get travel from one generation to another, it can be said that certain factors causing pilonidal sinus are hereditary.
In rare and severe cases, pilonidal sinus can increase the risk of a certain type of skin cancer called squamous skin carcinoma. Therefore, it is advisable to seek medical attention for the pilonidal sinus in time.
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