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Pilonidal Cyst Excision in Children: What to Expect at Home

Location and excision of a pilonidal cyst

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. If the cut (incision) was closed with stitches, it will probably take about 4 weeks to completely heal. If your child's incision is left open, it may take from a few weeks to several months to heal. After the incision has healed, your child will have a scar. This 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 daycare after 2 to 4 weeks. Until the incision 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 he or she is feeling better.
  • Have your child rest when he or she feels tired.
  • Have your child avoid sitting for a long time until the incision has healed. And keep your child from sitting on hard surfaces.
  • Many children are able to return to normal activities in a few weeks after surgery.
  • 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 him or her 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 him or her to avoid constipation and straining. Have your child drink plenty of water. The doctor may suggest fibre, 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, soapy 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 face cloth over the dressing.
    • You may notice greenish grey 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 doughnut cushion if sitting is uncomfortable for your child.

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 or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 or nurse advice line 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 he or she takes 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 or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.