Pilonidal cysts are a type of chronic skin infection that occurs in the region of the buttocks crease. The cysts develop as a reaction to ingrown hairs or hairs embedded in the skin.
While the exact cause of pilonidal cysts is not known, experts believe they are caused by loose hairs that penetrate the skin. The body considers this hair a foreign substance and the immune response against it leads to the formation of a cyst around the hair. Any trauma to the buttock region may also contribute to the development of pilonidal cysts.
Initially, there will be just a small, dimple-like depression on the surface of the skin. However, once infected, the depression becomes a swollen mass. It can be a closed sac filled with fluid or an abscess where pus collects.
Other signs and symptoms include pain and discomfort when sitting or standing, inflamed skin, drainage of pus or blood from an opening in the skin, and a bad smell from the pus. If the infection is severe, there may also be symptoms of fever, malaise or nausea.
This type of skin infection is more common in men than women. The risk is higher in obese people and those with excessive body hair as well as thick or coarse body hair. An inactive lifestyle or job requiring prolonged sitting also increases the risk.
Mild cases of pilonidal cysts resolve naturally and require little treatment. However, in some cases, prolonged treatment as well as surgery may be needed to reduce the size of the cysts and prevent infection.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for pilonidal cysts.
1. Warm Compresses
To get relief from the severe pain, applying warm compresses to the affected area is very effective.
A warm compress also will help the fluid and pus accumulated within the cysts to drain quickly and the healing process will begin.
However, warm compresses will not prevent the growth of pilonidal cysts.
- Soak a washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess water.
- Hold the warm cloth on the affected area for a few minutes.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times a day until the fluid starts draining.
Alternatively, you can take a hot sitz bath or rinse the area with warm water for a few minutes.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another very effective remedy for this painful problem.
This oil has healing and curative powers in the form of antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, which can keep an infection at bay.
Plus, as the oil penetrates deep into the skin, it promotes faster healing.
- Dilute tea tree oil with water in the ratio of 1:10.
- Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the area with lukewarm water and pat dry thoroughly.
- Use this remedy 2 or 3 times daily.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Using apple cider vinegar can also help treat pilonidal cysts.
Its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, the antiseptic and antibacterial nature of apple cider vinegar prevents bacterial growth that can trigger further infection and delay the healing process.
- Mix 2 or 3 teaspoons of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in ½ cup of warm water. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and place it directly on the affected area for about 1 minute. Repeat this remedy 3 or 4 times daily for a few days.
- Alternatively, add 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink it twice daily to promote healing from within.
4. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt can provide relief from the agony of a pilonidal cyst. It has several healing properties that will help reduce and heal the cyst very quickly. The magnesium sulfate in it can aid the expulsion of pus from the cyst.
It will also relieve associated pain and inflammation.
- Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt into 1 to 2 cups of warm water. Mix thoroughly until the salt granules dissolve completely. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and apply it on affected area for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat once daily for several days.
- Alterntively, you can take a hot sitz bath in warm water mixed with Epsom salt. When adding Epsom salt in bath water, use 1 cup of the salt for every 6 inches of water.
5. Castor Oil
Castor oil has high anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with pilonidal cysts.
It will also promote faster healing.
- Soak a cotton ball in warm castor oil.
- Apply it on the affected area and secure the cotton ball with a bandage.
- Reapply 2 or 3 times daily, using a freshly soaked cotton ball and fresh bandage each time.
- Follow this remedy until the cyst disappears.
Garlic is another effective natural remedy for pilonidal cysts, thanks to its potent antibiotic and antifungal properties. When taken internally, it also helps boost the immune system to fight infections and promote healing.
- Crush a garlic clove with the back of a knife and apply it on the affected area. Cover with a gauze and leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse it off. Do this once daily for a few days.
- You can also eat 1 crushed garlic clove 2 or 3 times a day, followed by a glass of water.
Note: Topical application of garlic is not suitable for those with sensitive skin. Also, make sure not leave it on your skin for more than 10 minutes at a stretch.
7. Aloe Vera
To stimulate healing and reduce pain and swelling, aloe vera is very effective. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help reduce the discomfort and quicken the healing of a pilonidal cyst.
- Extract fresh aloe vera gel from an aloe plant leaf and apply it directly on the affected area. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat this remedy 3 or 4 times a day.
- Another option is to soak a cotton ball in fresh aloe vera gel for 5 minutes, then apply it on the affected area for 30 minutes. Wait 2 hours, then reapply a freshly soaked cotton ball. Follow this treatment for a week.
Turmeric is another very effective home treatment for pilonidal cysts. The compound curcumin in it exhibits an anti-inflammatory property that reduces inflammation and pain. Plus, the antiseptic property of turmeric helps prevent and treat any infection.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder with a little water to make a paste. Smear this paste on the cyst and let it dry on its own. Rinse the area with lukewarm water. Repeat 2 or 3 times daily for a few days.
- Alternatively, drinking a glass of milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder mixed in is also recommended.
9. Black Tea Bags
The acidic property of black tea prevents these cysts from getting worse and helps keep an infection at bay. The tea’s anti-inflammatory nature also provides relief from pain and swelling.
- Dip a black tea bag in warm water for 5 minutes.
- Remove it from the water and squeeze out the excess water.
- Hold the moist tea bag over the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily for several days.
10. Indian Lilac (Neem)
You can use Indian lilac, also known as neem, to treat this annoying problem.
Due to its natural antiseptic and antibacterial qualities, neem can promote healing and keep an infection at bay.
- Grind a handful of thoroughly washed neem leaves into a paste. Apply the paste on the affected area. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Do this 3 or 4 times a day.
- Alternatively, boil a handful of neem leaves in a pan filled with water until half of the water evaporates. Strain and allow the water to cool. Rinse the affected area with this neem-infused water 2 or 3 times a day.
- To prevent pilonidal cysts, keep the area clean and dry.
- After using the bathroom, wipe the area with some water and unscented tissue paper.
- Do not use creams or gels on the affected area, as it may irritate the skin further.
- Wash the affected area with warm water and antiseptic soap and pat dry thoroughly.
- Avoid getting any kind of moisture in the area.
- Do not touch the area with dirty hands.
- If needed, lose weight to reduce the risk of developing this painful problem.
- Avoid prolonged sitting to prevent the problem as well as to quicken the healing process.
- Keep walking or taking a turn around the house or your work area frequently.
- Do not try to poke the cysts with any sharp tools to promote fluid drainage.
- For the time being, sleep on your side or your stomach.
- Try to leave the wound open to the air when at home and relaxing.
- Use a bandage to protect the wound when going out.
- Include anti-inflammatory foods like almonds, walnuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and green leafy vegetables in your diet to fight pain and inflammation.
- When the condition heals, opt for laser epilation to keep the area free from hair.