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  • Pilonidal disease is actually a chronic infection that forms in a pocket under the skin where hair, pus and/or debris collect. This occurs in the lower center of the back between the buttocks, which is called the natal cleft.

  • It usually results from body hair pushing through the skin of the natal cleft creating a small pit. A hair ball then forms in the pit. This usually branches into multiple infected tracts under the skin with multiple openings to the surface.

  • Pilonidal disease is more common in people between the ages of 14 and 26. Abscesses that occur in the midline cleft in children younger than 8 without body hair are extremely unlikely to be secondary to pilonidal disease.

  • Pilonidal disease rarely goes away without treatment. Most require some surgical intervention.

  • The disease can be mild, moderate, severe or recurrent. This depends on several factors including: the extent of the disease along the gluteal cleft, the severity of symptoms, proximity to the anus and whether it is recurrent or not.

  • In general, mild to moderate disease involves a short segment of the cleft, associated with mild to moderate symptoms, is away from the anus and is non recurrent.

  • Severe disease usually involves a long segment of the gluteal cleft, is associated with severe symptoms (ie constant drainage, bleeding, severe pain or frequent flare ups), is close to the anus or is recurrent.

 To see examples of mild/moderate disease versus severe disease please check our photo gallery.

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