Pilonidal Disease: Using Laser Hair Removal to Prevent a Chronic Skin Infection
Nov 13, 2018
What Is Pilonidal Disease?
Pilonidal disease is a chronic skin infection in the crease of the buttocks, near the tailbone. While it’s a common condition with more than 70,000 cases each year, it’s often not talked about due to embarrassment.
However, ignoring it isn’t a good option.
Who Can Get Pilonidal Disease?
Anyone can get pilonidal disease, but it’s three to four times more common in boys. There is often an increase in cases in the fall, when boys are playing football, but it can happen at any time. It’s also more common in people who are overweight, or those with coarse body hair.
Pilonidal disease usually occurs between the ages of puberty and 40. Unfortunately, 30 percent to 40 percent of patients will have recurrent infections.
How Is it Treated?
Chronic infections are usually treated by draining the infection or surgically removing the affected area, if needed. Keeping the area hair-free is important to preventing the infection from coming back and a recent study conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital showed that laser hair removal could help. The infection did not reappear in any study participants one year following laser hair removal treatment.
This early study shows that laser hair removal is safe and effective. However, few health insurance companies currently reimburse families for the cost of this treatment. That means treatments are available only to patients or families who can pay the “out of pocket” fee which ranges from $700 to $1,200.
To get more proof that laser hair removal is a better option than shaving or frequent surgical procedures, researchers are looking for 270 volunteers to help compare laser hair removal to traditional treatment for reducing pilonidal disease recurrence.
Katherine Deans, MD is board certified by the American Board of Surgery in Surgery, Surgical Critical Care and Pediatric Surgery. She is a member of the American College of Surgeons, Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Pediatric Surgical Association.
Peter Minneci, MD
Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice
Dr. Minneci is board certified by the American Board of Surgery in Surgery and Surgical Critical Care and is a member of the American College of Surgeons, Society of Critical Care Medicine and Alpha Omega Alpha.
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