Hidradenitis suppurativa and pilonidal cysts cause lumps to form beneath your skin. In either case, the lumps can develop into uncomfortable abscesses. Both conditions are frequently unreported by patients, misdiagnosed by doctors, and mistaken for one another. Yet, they have unique causes and treatments.

What Is Hidradenitis Suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa is an uncomfortable, chronic condition that causes lumps to form under your skin. The growths develop in areas of skin friction or folds, including armpits, breast folds, inner thighs, groin, buttocks, or anus. Researchers estimate that hidradenitis suppurativa affects one to four percent of the world’s population and is more common in women than men.

Signs and symptoms may include:

● Uncomfortable, burning, or itching skin before you can see a lump
● Small, uncomfortable lumps
● Lumps that grow and merge
● Abscesses that burst and drain
● Tunnels that connect the lumps
● Slow healing and recurring lumps
● Scarring
● Black bumps that look like blackheads

The condition can lead to a cycle of lumps, tunnels beneath the skin, and scarring.

What Is a Pilonidal Cyst?

A pilonidal cyst is an air or fluid-filled skin sac that forms in the crease of the buttocks between the tailbone and the anus. The cysts can cause extreme discomfort, especially when you are sitting. Ingrown hairs that have punctured the skin irritate it and can cause a cyst to form. If the cyst gets infected, an abscess can develop. Although U.S. doctors diagnose more than 70,000 pilonidal cyst cases yearly—primarily in men—many people feel too embarrassed to see a doctor.

Signs and symptoms may include:

● Discomfort that becomes worse when you are sitting
● A red, tender dimple or large bump in the crease of your buttocks
● An oozing abscess
● Nausea, fever, and fatigue

How Are Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Pilonidal Cysts Related?

Researchers compared sonography of hidradenitis suppurativa and pilonidal cysts and found similar characteristics, but the skin conditions are not the same. People with hidradenitis suppurativa develop a pilonidal sinus, or small tunnel beneath the skin connecting the lumps. However, a pilonidal tunnel is different from a pilonidal cyst. Therefore, diagnosing one condition does not mean you have both.

Still, some people are diagnosed with both conditions at the same time or later in life. Even though some aspects of your care may overlap, a doctor will recommend a distinct surgical procedure for each condition.

You Can Get Relief

Many people live for years with the challenges and discomfort of untreated bumps from hidradenitis suppurativa or pilonidal cysts. A plastic surgeon trained in diagnosing and treating skin conditions can identify the cause of your concerns.

An accurate diagnosis can improve your quality of life in these ways:

● Prevent the condition from worsening
● Treat an infection
● Relieve your discomfort
● Improve healing
● Reduce flare-ups
● Develop a treatment plan for long-term management of the condition

SuperGroup has a team of surgeons who regularly treat patients nationwide for hidradenitis suppurativa and pilonidal cysts. Our doctors provide compassionate, patient-centered care. Request a consultation to discuss your concerns and treatment options.