Pilonidal Cyst Removal in Children: What to Expect at Home

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Abscessed pilonidal cyst at top of crease between buttocks, with detail of cyst cut open and drained, and detail of cyst removed.

Your Child's Recovery

After surgery to remove a pilonidal (say "py-luh-NY-dul") cyst, your child may feel a little tired and sore. How long it will take for your child to heal depends on the way the surgery was done. After healing, your child will have a scar or scars from the procedure. These will fade and become softer with time.

Your child probably had a sedative to help relax. Your child may be unsteady after having sedation. It takes time (sometimes a few hours) for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or cranky.

Most children can go back to school or day care anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Your child's doctor will let you know what to expect. Until the area has completely healed, your child will need to avoid strenuous exercise and activities that require long periods of sitting.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Allow your child's body to heal. Don't let your child move quickly or lift anything heavy until your child is feeling better.
  • Have your child rest when feeling tired.
  • Have your child avoid sitting for a long time while healing. And keep your child from sitting on hard surfaces.
  • Many children are able to return to normal activities anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks, depending on the type of surgery they had.
  • Don't bathe your child until the incision is completely healed. Keep the area dry and clean.
  • Your child can take a shower. If your child takes showers, tell your child to pat the area around the incision dry with a towel after showering.


  • Your child can eat a normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If your child's bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, you can help your child to avoid constipation and straining. Have your child drink plenty of water. The doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If your child's incision was closed with stitches:
    • Wash the area daily with warm water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
    • You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it oozes fluid or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
    • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • If your child had stitches, the doctor will tell you when to come back to have them removed.
  • If your child's incision was left open to heal, change the bandage (called a dressing) as instructed by your doctor.
    • Dressing changes may hurt at first. Giving pain medicine to your child about half an hour before you change the dressing can help.
    • If your child's dressing sticks to the wound, try soaking the dressing in warm water for about 10 minutes. Then remove it. You can do this in the shower. Or you can do it by placing a wet washcloth over the dressing.
    • You may notice greenish gray fluid from your child's wound as it starts to heal. This is normal. It is a sign that your child's wound is healing.

Other instructions

  • Try using a coccyx cushion if sitting is uncomfortable for your child. This type of cushion keeps pressure off the tailbone (coccyx).
  • In some cases, keeping the area free of hair can prevent problems. Ask your doctor if your child should remove hair from the area and what method of hair removal they suggest.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing.
  • Your child has sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or coughs up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after taking pain medicine.
  • Your child's incision was closed with stitches and the stitches come loose, or the incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your child's incision.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.