Do you suffer from excruciating pain every time you visit the loo? If this has been the case for weeks, it is likely that you may have developed pilonidal cysts. But don’t worry, as this condition, in its initial stages, can be treated at home. To know more, read on.
Pilonidal Cyst – An Overview
A pilonidal cyst is a sac-like structure that develops on the edge of the coccyx or the tailbone, near the parting of the buttocks (1). The cysts usually have hair and collect debris from dead skin cells. Pilonidal cysts can be either asymptomatic, i.e., you do not feel any pain or discomfort at all, or show symptoms like inflammation and pain.
There are several theories as to why these cysts come into existence, but so far, none of them has been proved to be consistent throughout the various cases of pilonidal cysts. One of the theories is that loose hair penetrates into the skin’s subcutaneous layer through follicles that have dilated. Due to this ingrown hair, a cyst forms around the hair and increases in volume due to accumulating skin debris.
During the Second World War, soldiers were found to develop pilonidal cysts due to riding in jeeps along bumpy roads for long hours (2). So, it is believed that repeated trauma or excessive pressure makes a person prone to the condition.
[ Read: Home Remedies To Treat Sebaceous Cyst ]
Who Can Get Pilonidal Cysts?
- Family history of pilonidal cysts or occupations involving long hours of sitting is a contributing factor towards the development of cysts.
- Males with a deep natal cleft are more prone to developing pilonidal cysts.
- Those who have a lot of hair in the cleft area too may develop cysts. If a person has a lot of hair in the cleft area, they may undergo laser hair removal to reduce the chances of cyst development.
Pilonidal Cyst Home Treatments
Following are some of the home remedies for pilonidal cysts.
Garlic is full of antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. So, like in many cases of inflammation, it is a good remedy for pilonidal cysts in the initial stages. It is a good substitute for harsh, invasive surgical procedures to remove the cyst. It also contains antioxidants that help in fighting against germs that grow in the cyst. To treat a newly sprouted pilonidal cyst with garlic, you can make a paste of garlic with plain water. Now thickly smear this on the area and let it sit for half an hour. This will allow the garlic to extract the toxic materials from the cyst and also kill bacteria that might be growing inside. After that, take a warm bath and scrape away the garlic. This can be done twice a day for best results.
Salt helps in drawing out the excess liquid that may have been stored in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, like in boils and cysts. It also helps in reducing irritation or inflammation that is usually associated with pilonidal cysts.
You can take a soothing, warm bath with lavender bath salt or any other bath salt you can find in spa supply stores.
If you cannot find these, you can easily use plain old Epsom salt, which works just as well. Simply add a couple of teaspoons of Epsom salt in the warm bath and soak yourself in it for at least fifteen minutes. It will not only calm you after a long, stressful day, but also help in healing pilonidal cysts.
3. Essential Oil
Essential oils have antifungal properties, which is why they are often added in home made remedies for boils (3).
You can use jojoba oil, which heals skin and moisturizes the affected area (4).
Peppermint oil reduces itching and irritation around the cyst and sage oil removes harmful toxins that accumulate in the cyst area.
To make this pilonidal cyst home remedy, make a mixture of 5 drops of each of these oils and rub on the cyst. You can also combine essential oil (only a couple of drops of the mixture) with Epsom salt and take a very effective salt bath.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Cysts, inflamed boils – all of these can be treated with apple cider vinegar. The vinegar, being acidic in nature, helps in balancing the pH levels of the skin. It also removes toxins from the pilonidal cyst.
To heal your cyst with apple cider vinegar, soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and press it firmly on the cyst. To keep the cotton ball in the position, attach it with a band-aid. You can also rinse the affected area with apple cider vinegar twice a day.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is used in various skin treatments because it fights against bacterial and viral infections. This is the reason it makes a good home remedy for pilonidal cyst.
To use Aloe Vera, get hold of some of the plant’s leaves. These are quite fleshy, so scoop out the gel-like pulp from inside the leaves. Now blend this with castor oil. The paste is quite viscous. So dab it on the cyst and leave for an hour. Do this as many times as you can during the day.
If you can find fenugreek capsules or supplements, you can take these twice a day to heal a pilonidal cyst. You can also consume fenugreek by boiling a spoonful of the seeds in half a glass of water. Once the solution is cooled, strain and drink it.
When you think of anti-inflammatory substances, honey is the first one that comes to mind. It also has antiseptic properties and can reduce the symptoms of pilonidal cyst very quickly (5).
To use honey, make sure you have the pure raw form and not the processed one bought from the stores that contains a lot of added sugar. You can smear a bit of raw honey on the cyst and let it draw out the toxins. Also, every morning, drink a tablespoon of honey mixed in a glass of lukewarm water. This cleans out the system and reduces chances of infection.
Turmeric has curcumin, which is a very effective antioxidant (6). Turmeric also has pain relieving effects and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it also acts as an effective pilonidal cyst treatment at home.
To use turmeric as a home remedy, you can make a paste of turmeric powder and a few drops of water. Smear this on the cyst and wait till it dries.
You can also grate turmeric roots and press the small bits on to the cyst. Turmeric can be added to your daily food to get flavour and its anti-inflammatory benefits. Drinking a glass of milk with a teaspoon of turmeric powder is considered a potent antioxidant in India.
Beeswax is chock full of vitamin A. This vitamin helps in cell growth and regeneration in the infected area. It also assists the various components of our immune system to fight infection.
To use beeswax as a home remedy, you can melt a bit of beeswax, and once it cools slightly (it will also become viscous), apply it over the cyst. You can also grate beeswax in small shreds over the cyst area.
10. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains plenty of antioxidants, which reduce inflammation of the pilodinal cysts. To use tea tree oil, you can make a poultice. Simply soak a cotton ball in tea tree oil and keep it pressed on the cyst firmly with a band aid.
You can also directly apply the tea tree oil using a dropper. Another way is to gently massage the area with tea tree oil mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil or any other kind of massage oil.
With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil quickly dries up the boil and minimizes chances of further infection. It also helps in tissue development around the cyst.
[ Read: Yoga Asanas To Treat Ovarian Cysts ]
11. Slaked Lime
Slaked lime is really good for reducing inflammation (7). In fact, in India, slaked lime is ingested with betel leaves and this is used to reduce pain from bee stings or ant bites. The slaked lime also helps in drying out boils and such skin infections.
To make a poultice of slaked lime, mix some slaked lime with water (it is an exothermic reaction, so the mixture gets hot) and stuff this in a muslin cloth poultice. Apply this over the cyst twice a way for results. You can also mix some slaked lime powder with turmeric paste and apply this thick salve over the cyst. Once it is dry, scrape off the lime and wash with warm water.
12. Castor Oil
Castor oil is also a very effective remedy for pilonidal cyst. Massage the area of skin over the cyst with castor oil regularly to reap its benefits. Castor oil is effective in reducing inflammation and accelerates the healing of the pilonidal cyst.
You can also cover it with a cotton wad soaked in castor oil and wrap it with a bandage.
Iodine is another home remedy that can relieve you from the pain of pilodinal cyst. Iodine solution can be purchased.
Soak a cotton ball in iodine solution and press it on the cyst. Attach it to the place with a band aid.
14. Hot Compress
Hot compress helps in increasing blood circulation around the cyst. If you have an iron griddle, heat it over the gas. Now take a towel and press it down on the griddle to heat it. You can also use a hot bag (rubber bag filled with hot water) to supply heat to the cyst. Warm baths and electronic heat pads can also be used for the same effect.
Exercise helps in blood circulation. If the blood circulation near the cyst is reduced, infection and inflammation can take severe form. So, exercise regularly to keep pilonidal cyst symptoms at bay. You can take up aerobic exercising to may sure your cardiovascular system is in good shape while you also enjoy the energizing workout. Taking up yoga can benefit too, especially for those who do not want to spend too much time in an exhausting workout regime.
16. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can stop the cyst from becoming aggravated. Pilonidal cysts can spread quickly if your immune system is weak, so it is best to keep your immunity at its best. For this, you need to eat really healthy food. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and healthy protein. Chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, citric fruits, ginger, and yogurt are all good for your immune system.
17. Avoid Irritants
Cysts can become aggravated by irritants like creams and powders. So, to clean the area, use water and pat it dry using a clean towel. Its symptoms may become exaggerated on using creams, so avoid them.
18. Regular Cleaning
It is very important to keep the affected area clean. For this, rinse using water two to three times a day. As the above point states, do not use creams or gels to clean the area as they may irritate the inflammation further. If you want, you can use glycerin as a cleanser and clean dirt from the skin. In fact, to avoid cysts altogether, it is a good idea to keep the coccyx area clean.
When Home Remedies Don’t Work
If the cyst is at a later stage of development, it is probably best to go to the doctor for either one of the following measures:
- Pilonidal cyst is usually drained after making an incision (8). The hair follicles and debris and pus are removed, packed with gauze and the procedure is continued for three weeks.
- Another treatment involves incision and drainage followed by sewing and closing of the wound. This procedure needs about two months to heal.
- Sometimes, instead of closing the wound, a pouch is sewn around the injury. This minimizes the depth and size of the wound.
Pilonodal cysts often recur and depending on the frequency of the occurrence of these cysts, they can be treated at home. Usually, in cases of small and infrequent cysts, they are completely cured by some of these Pilonidal cyst home treatments. Otherwise, medical intervention is necessary.
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