People horrified to find out what cysts really are – and it's left them feeling 'itchy'

Woman looking shocked at her phone
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

If you're squeamish look away now – this health fact is guaranteed to make you shudder.

Our bodies are complex machines, and they can achieve some pretty remarkable things to keep us healthy without us even knowing what they're up to. From weird smells that alert us to a hidden problem to pimples that keep bacteria out of our pores, there's a whole host of strange stuff going on behind the scenes.

One of these odd defence mechanisms is a specific type of growth known as a pilonidal cyst. These cysts – also known as pilonidal sinus – begin as small holes at the top of your bottom, before a pus-filled cyst forms around it to try and keep the offending bacteria and other nasties out. But do you know what actually causes them?

Some people are only just discovering the unsettling truth thanks to a TikTok video shared by @curiosity9991, and it's left them with "new fears" they never knew they had.

In the clip, it was explained that pilonidal cysts form when our own hairs poke at the skin and try to re-enter the body – which the body rejects and attempts to push out. The video said: "If you cut a pilonidal cyst in half, you'd probably find a clump of hair inside.

"These hairs typically fall from your head and down the back of your shirt, and as you ruffle around throughout the day, they move down to this area [your lower back] and eventually embed into your skin. Your body perceives them as a foreign object and the area becomes inflamed. This can eventually cause a cyst to form that entraps more and more hairs as they fall."

According to the NHS, the cause is "not clear", however the health body's website does state "a skin problem, pressure or friction may cause hair between the buttocks to be pushed inwards" can cause the problem to begin.

The site continues: "This may either be hair growing around the buttock area, or loose hair shed from the buttocks or elsewhere that gather around the buttock cleft and enters the pilonidal sinus."

Thankfully, the condition usually clears up by itself, and treatment is only needed if the cyst becomes infected. In this instance, you may need the cyst cut and drained, and you may be prescribed antibiotics.

Despite the condition not usually needing treatment, people on the TikTok video were still horrified to learn it even exists. Some stated the video had even unlocked a "new fear" for them.

One person said: "New fear unlocked," while someone else added: "Thank you, now I feel itchy in the places I can't itch."