Hard, Painful Bump on Your Tailbone? Symptoms of a Pilonidal Cyst
A pilonidal cyst can be a dreadfully painful affliction. I had the unfortunate experience of developing one, and at the time, I had absolutely no idea what it was. I brushed it aside as a minor inconvenience and left it untreated until one day I found I could barely walk. Soon I couldn’t sit, stand, or lay down either—I was experiencing constant agony on my backside. This literal "pain in the butt" may seem funny to some (myself included), but it feels horrible when you’ve actually got one.
If you believe you may be developing a pilonidal cyst, the absolute best course of action is to recognize the symptoms early and get treatment before it begins to cause you excruciating pain. Early treatment of a pilonidal cyst, whether at home or at the hospital from your doctor, can save you a great deal of anguish.
Pilonidal Cyst Signs and Symptoms
When fully developed, a pilonidal cyst is an extremely painful lump that may contain pus, dead skin, and hair. Generally, the surrounding area will be red or pink, warm to the touch, tender, and inflamed.
If you suspect you may be starting to develop a pilonidal cyst, or if you think you may already have one, review the two main symptoms below. Thankfully, the signs are easily recognizable, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble working out whether or not they apply to you. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, visiting a medical professional is advisable.
1. A Lump on or Near the Tailbone
The first and most obvious symptom is the presence of a small lump, bump, or protuberance on or close to your tailbone. Beginning as a tiny lump, a pilonidal cyst will gradually increase in size. Even when noticed early, cysts can be easy to forget about when they are still small and relatively painless.
2. Pain in or Around the Tailbone When Sitting Down
Some cysts lie underneath the skin, making them difficult to detect until they reach a noticeable size. Even when not yet visible, however, these cysts can cause significant pain when you are seated due to the extra pressure put on the tailbone area.
- Tenderness and swelling at the base of the spine
- Redness and heat
- Foul odor
- Draining pus
- Discomfort when sitting
Early Diagnosis and Treatment
Most people who develop these cysts don't pay them much mind until they suddenly transform into a large and painful lump. If you think you may have one developing, be sure to check on it every day. If the lump persists and increases in size, see your doctor immediately—treatment of a cyst in its early stages may be easier and less painful than waiting.
Jeep Seat: Pilonidal Cysts Caused by Prolonged Sitting
If you do have a lump developing, think back to whether you sat on something hard or uncomfortable for a prolonged period of time. During the Second World War, pilonidal cysts were known as "jeep seat", as soldiers frequently developed them by sitting in hard truck seats for hours on end. Mine was actually caused by repeatedly sitting on a hard, beaten-up, wooden couch in an awkward position (it was too small for me).
Quick Pilonidal Cyst Facts
- They occur most often in men, although women may be affected as well.
- They are almost always located on or around the tailbone or coccyx, which is located at the crest of the buttocks.
- Since they can be caused by ingrown hairs, pilonidal cysts are thought to affect those with darker, coarser hair more frequently.
- They may occur after long periods of sitting on hard, uncomfortable, or bumpy surfaces.
Care, Treatment, and Medication
If you are experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms in addition to fever or lethargy, contact your doctor immediately. Should your cyst require excision and drainage, be sure to follow your doctor’s post-procedure instructions for at-home treatment and care, which may include keeping the excision site clean and using a broad-spectrum antibiotic to combat infection.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.