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Pilonidal Sinus – Foods To Eat & Avoid!

By Dr. Saurabh Kumar Goyal +2 more

Pilonidal sinus is a skin condition where an infected cyst may tunnel through the skin. This may appear as a hole, depression or patch of sunken skin. It is most commonly found in the space between the buttocks called the cleft. Pilonidal sinus becomes a serious issue when the cyst gets infected, this may trigger swelling, pain and other symptoms. Pilonidal sinus is much more common in men than women and may be linked with ingrown hair that punctures and pushes inside the skin. 

Diagnosing and fixing pilonidal sinus will require medical attention. If you suspect that you may have this condition, consult a doctor immediately. Your doctor will provide various options for dealing with pilonidal sinus. You may also need to maintain a healthy diet to keep your body strong during this time. Scroll on to find foods to try and avoid when you have pilonidal sinus.

10 Best foods that help treat Pilonidal Sinus

Pilonidal sinus cannot be fixed through diet alone, in most cases, surgery will be required for permanent relief. However, the following foods can support a healthy body and decrease the risk of infections like in case of pilonidal sinus getting worse: 

1. Protein-rich foods

Protein is required by your body for regular tissue repair and normal bodily functions. There are vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources of protein, depending on your preferences. Non-vegetarian sources of protein should not include excessive amounts of fat, such as grilled or roasted preparations of f chicken and fish. Vegetarian sources include pulses, peas, beans, soybean, cottage cheese and nuts. 

2. High-fibre foods

Fibre-rich foods like veggies and fruits can ease your digestion allowing you to pass bowels smoothly. Without enough fibre, you may experience difficulty passing bowels. This can lead to strain in the abdominal region which also puts pressure on your pilonidal sinus. Hence, you need large amounts of fibre in your diet when you are recovering from pilonidal sinus. Bananas, carrots, oats, sweet potatoes, apples, pears and beetroots are good sources of dietary fibre. 

3. Garlic

Garlic is thought to have antibiotic and antifungal effects. Maintaining a healthy immune system is essential if you have pilonidal sinus and garlic can support your body in this aspect. 

4. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and Seeds like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, flaxseeds, methi seed, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds come with minerals, vitamins and have fibre and antioxidants which help in reducing inflammation and support the healing process.

5. Turmeric

The main active component in turmeric is called curcumin. This compound is thought to decrease inflammation and may also have antioxidant properties. Add turmeric to your diet to lower inflammation and strengthen your body’s ability to repair itself. 

6. Honey

Honey is known as a superfood for its numerous health benefits. Honey is a natural antiseptic and also has anti-inflammatory properties like turmeric. Honey can be added to virtually all food items in place of sugar and can also be taken with plain warm water.

7. Boiled methi (fenugreek)

Fenugreek is thought to support the immune system while also having anti-inflammatory properties. Boil the fenugreek in water, strain the seeds out and drink the water several times a day. Fenugreek has long been used in traditional medicine and is thought to have strong antioxidant properties. Weight loss is an important change that some people with pilonidal sinus need to make and fenugreek may also be of use for this. 

Researchers have found that the intake of honey following the pilonidal sinus removal surgery with wound healing is linked to a better surgical outcome and may eventually shorten the time it takes to recover and resume normal activities. I strongly recommend people who have undergone surgery to add honey in their diet.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Foods to avoid with Pilonidal Sinus 

In general, you will need to avoid all kinds of unhealthy foods that affect your overall health. Additionally, if you are also trying to lose weight to reduce your pilonidal sinus symptoms, you may need to avoid any food items that can contribute to weight gain. 

1. Avoid deep-fried foods

Deep-fried foods are very high in fat (due to the oil) and can contribute to increased weight. Additionally, these kinds of foods may be harder to digest, putting unnecessary strain on your system when you go to the toilet. 

2. Avoid junk food

Junk foods are any items that are highly processed, lack nutritious value or that contribute to health issues (like blood pressure, heart health and more). This can include sweetened desserts, readymade snacks, chips, cakes and other baked goods, sweets and candies, excessive amounts of unhealthy salad dressing, carbonated and sweetened beverages as well as others.

3. Avoid spicy foods

Spicy foods can cause diarrhoea, pain and excessive stress on your body when passing bowels. This is unhelpful for those living with pilonidal sinus, as it can worsen your symptoms. Certain hot foods and beverages (like tea) can also have the same effect.

4. Limit caffeine and other diuretics

Diuretics are foods and beverages that make your body pass extra water. This tends to leave the body dehydrated, which causes numerous problems. Constipation may be increased when you consume diuretics like caffeine, alcohol and others. Do your best to stay hydrated and limit these kinds of substances.

5. Avoid smoking

Infection rates for pilonidal sinus may be higher for two types of people – smokers and those who are obese. Although the mechanism is not well known, smoking is linked to higher infection and poor wound repair after surgery. It is extremely important to talk to your doctor and stop smoking before any pilonidal sinus surgery. 

To my knowledge, collagen, the primary building block of connective tissue, forms throughout the healing process, and vitamin C is crucial for this process. Zinc is believed to be essential for the growth of new cells and the healing of wounds. Studies have shown that even a slight zinc shortage may impair wound healing. Vitamin A may aid in tissue healing by boosting the number of macrophages at the location of the lesion.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Pilonidal Sinus-friendly recipes to try

Follow the diet that suits your health and taste. Here are a few recipes that you may try –

1. Fibre+protein chicken salad

  • Take about 350 g of sweet potato (peeled and sliced) with 1 medium onion, 1 tablespoon of oil, half a spoon of salt, a quarter spoon of black pepper and a bit of cinnamon (if available) and toss it well
  • Bake or roast slowly on a pan until the potatoes are tender (for about 20 minutes)
  • Add 3 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice, honey,  ½ spoon salt,  ¼ spoon black pepper and 2 teaspoons honey into a small bowl and mix until combined (you can add a few spice powders of your choice to this dressing)
  • In a large bowl, combine the baked sweet potato mixture with pre-cooked shredded chicken, sliced or shaved carrots, leafy greens and the dressing
  • You can add rice to the salad and make it a full meal
  • This recipe includes ample amounts of fibre for smooth digestion as well as protein to support wound repair 

2. Vegetarian protein salad

  • Combine roughly equal amounts of boiled and drained chickpeas, sliced cucumber, sliced onions and sliced or diced tomatoes in a large bowl
  • Add a small bunch of finely chopped dhania leaves (cilantro)
  • Top with olive oil (or other healthy vegetable oil), salt, pepper and other seasonings as well as a squeeze of lime juice
  • Toss well until all the veggies are coated in dressing and serve immediately 
  • Additional toppings can include sweet potatoes, bell peppers (capsicum) and lettuce 
  • This recipe is an alternative to non-vegetarian protein and can also be made with other protein-rich items like boiled beans 

3. Protein and fibre shake 

  • Combine 1 cup of regular milk with 1 sliced banana, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 cubes of ice and a flavouring of choice (cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg) 
  • Optionally, you can add various nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, cashews) or protein-rich boiled beans/peas
  • For additional flavouring, you may add cocoa powder or fibre rich fruits like apples (with the skin)
  • Blend all the ingredients until smooth and drink immediately 
  • This protein and fibre-rich shake is useful not only for smoother bowel movements but also aids in healthy weight loss


An infected pilonidal sinus can be cause for concern, there are many options your doctor can try to help you get better. Surgery and draining of the sinus are the most recommended procedures. Along with the treatment, simple self-care measures like weight management, personal hygiene maintenance and exercise can also help you get better. Speak with your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms of pilonidal sinus and follow their instructions.  


How to decrease my pilonidal sinus?

Decreasing the size of the swelling and pain associated with it may only be possible with surgical intervention. However, self-care methods like applying a hot compress or certain prescribed medicines may also temporarily make the swelling less. 

Can pilonidal sinus heal with antibiotics?

Although antibiotics may be used as part of your medical treatment, they may not be particularly useful in eliminating the infection. Like other types of boils, antibiotic medications may not significantly reduce the size of the pilonidal sinus.

Is fibre good for pilonidal sinus?

Yes, a fibre diet can help you to pass stools with ease. If you do not have enough fibre in your diet, you will need to strain when going to the toilet. This can put pressure on the pilonidal sinus region which is not good. A fibre-rich diet allows you to avoid this additional strain. 

Why is protein good for pilonidal sinus?

Protein is essential for rebuilding tissue in the body, including skin tissue. Since the area affected by pilonidal sinus will need to eventually heal, sufficient amounts of protein from your diet are required to achieve this. 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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