A TEENAGER was left with a gaping hole in his back after an infected ingrown hair “burrowed into his spine”.
Chae Ruffold, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, has spent the last two years confined to his bed due to the fist-sized wound at the top of his buttocks.
The 15-year-old is now dependent on a cocktail of pain killers and antibiotics and is home schooled in his bedroom.
He said: “I’m in pain all the time and I’m fed up with it all. I just want to get on with my life.”
Chae’s troubles started in January last year when he went into hospital for a small operation on his toenails.
Doctors noticed something wasn’t quite right with his back and he was diagnosed with a pilonidal sinus (PNS) – a hole in the cleft of the bum cheeks.
It’s usually caused by sitting for long periods, which can force the hair growing in the area to burrow back under the skin.
The body considers this hair foreign and launches an immune response against it, which is when a cyst might develop.
Chae waited seven months before he underwent surgery to have the infection cut away.
By this point it had spread 7cm (2.7in) up his spine and 5cm (2in) across his back.
His mum Michelle, 43, claims it was so big a person’s fist could have easily fitted in it.
But despite going under the knife, Chae was devastated to be told the sinus had returned meaning more surgery in August last year.
Now, more than a year on his PNS is back again and he is facing a third operation.
What is pilonidal sinus (PNS)?
A pilonidal sinus (PNS) is a small hole or tunnel in the skin in the cleft at the top of the buttocks.
It may fill with fluid or pus, causing the formation of a cyst or abscess, which usually contains hair, dirt, and debris.
They can cause severe pain and can often become infected, may ooze pus and blood and have a foul odor.
A PNS is a condition that mostly affects men and is also common in young adults, but it’s also more common in people who sit a lot, like cab drivers.
The exact cause of this condition isn’t known, but it is believed to be a combination of changing hormones (because it occurs after puberty), hair growth, and friction from clothes or from spending a long time sitting.
Activities that cause friction, like sitting, can force the hair growing in the area to burrow back under the skin.
The body considers this hair foreign and launches an immune response – a cyst- against it, similar to how it would react when dealing with a splinter.
Treatment can include a course of antibiotics or a procedure known as lancing, which is when a scalpel is used to open the abscess.
Another option is a phenol injection, which is an antiseptic, that is jabbed into the cyst to help the leison harden and close.
For those with recurring PNS, doctors will recommend a surgical procedure to remove the pus and debris then stitch the wound closed.
The tearful mum Michelle said: “It’s been nothing short of a living nightmare.
“There are days when Chae gets really down and frustrated. He can’t get out of bed and can be in huge pain sometimes.
“It can be very upsetting when he gets in a low mood because it’s very hard for him to think positively.
“He’s a social butterfly and an outgoing boy. He should be out playing with his mates not lying in bed all day.”
It’s been nothing short of a living nightmare
His parents Michelle and Carl, 49, claim that they haven’t been able to enjoy a meal around the family dining table for two years and instead eat sitting around Chae’s bed.
They are now fundraising for their son to have an operation that will remove the infected tissue and allow the wound to heal.
They couple claim that they’ve even had to pay £800 for a special foam mattress for Chae because he’s not eligible to have one on the NHS.
Michele said: “The wound is getting bigger by the day, it’s rotting him away very gradually.
“We need this surgery otherwise it will get worse, it’ll allow him to start healing again.
“We haven’t been able to sit around the table and eat for two years. We can’t go out, we can’t do anything as a family, we haven’t been able to go on holiday.
“You have to keep your spirits up and stay positive and just keep upbeat.
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“He’s in pain every day, he has to take cocktails of adult painkillers, they make him quite drowsy and not himself.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see.”
Chae’s parents are raising £5,000 on GoFundMe for his operation.
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