What is a sacral dimple?
A sacral dimple is a small bump in your newborn’s lower back near the crease of their buttocks. Sacral refers to the sacrum, which is the bone at the bottom of your baby’s spine. A sacral dimple is a congenital condition, which means your baby was born with it. A sacral dimple won’t go away. But as your child grows, it becomes less noticeable.
Most sacral dimples don’t cause any problems. Sometimes, a sacral dimple can be a sign of an underlying spinal issue. These include spina bifida and tethered spinal cord.
Spina bifida happens when your developing baby’s spine doesn’t form completely early during your pregnancy. Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect. The severity of the condition varies widely. Most cases are mild. More severe cases can cause significant nerve and spinal cord damage.
A tethered spinal cord occurs when your baby’s spinal cord is stuck to tissues around their spine. This causes their spinal cord to be fixed in place — it can’t move freely within their spinal canal. This condition can cause your baby’s spinal cord to stretch out as they grow, which can lead to nerve damage.
Your child’s healthcare provider will look closely at a sacral dimple to decide if it may be a sign of a spinal issue. Based on its size and location, your child’s provider may order more tests to rule out spine problems.
How common are sacral dimples?
Approximately 3% to 8% of babies are born with a sacral dimple.
What’s the difference between back dimples and sacral dimples?
Back dimples are also indentations found on your child’s lower back. But they come in a set of two — one on each side of your child’s spine. Tissues called ligaments create these lower back dimples. Ligaments connect your skin to your pelvic bones.
Back dimples are harmless like sacral dimples. They’re also called butt dimples and dimples of Venus. Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty. Many people believe back dimples enhance your beauty. They believe dimples of Venus can also increase your fertility and give you good luck.
What’s the difference between pilonidal dimples and sacral dimples?
Pilonidal dimples (pilonidal cysts) are also found on your lower back area. But a pilonidal cyst is a round sac of tissue that's filled with fluid or air. If the cyst becomes infected, it can become swollen and painful. A pilonidal cyst can lead to a swollen pocket of pus (abscess) if left untreated.
You aren’t born with pilonidal cysts. They develop after birth. Pilonidal cysts are most common in teenagers and young adults who were assigned male at birth. This is because coarse body hair and sweat can create a good environment for an infection.
Symptoms and Causes
What are the symptoms of a sacral dimple?
Sacral dimples don’t have any symptoms other than the indentation itself. The dimple is typically shallow and found in or near the crease of your baby’s buttocks.
In rare instances, some sacral dimples are a sign of a spine or spinal cord problem. In these cases, your child’s healthcare provider may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. A sacral dimple that’s a sign of an accompanying spinal problem may have signs including:
- A tuft of hair nearby.
- A small bit of extra skin.
- Bruising or discoloration of nearby skin.
What causes a sacral dimple?
Researchers don’t know why sacral dimples appear in some people. Some believe dimples are genetic, but very little research has studied dimples. So they’re not sure what genes may cause dimples.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is a sacral dimple diagnosed?
To diagnose a sacral dimple, your child’s healthcare provider will perform a physical examination. They'll look at the area near the bottom of your child's spine. Their healthcare provider will note the size and location of the dimple.
If the sacral dimple looks large, deep or far from the crease of your child’s buttocks, your child’s healthcare provider may order an ultrasound. An ultrasound is a test that can provide images of the spine. Your child’s healthcare provider may also order an ultrasound if they see a skin tag, hairy patch or bruising in the area.
Management and Treatment
How is a sacral dimple treated?
Most sacral dimples don’t cause any problems or need any treatment. If the sacral dimple is a sign of an underlying problem, your child’s healthcare provider will discuss treatment options with you.
How can I prevent a sacral dimple?
Because sacral dimples are present at birth and we don’t really know what causes them, it isn’t possible to prevent them.
Outlook / Prognosis
What are the outcomes after treatment for conditions related to a sacral dimple?
If your child has a condition related to a sacral dimple, such as spina bifida or a tethered spinal cord, they’ll need additional treatment. Each of those conditions has different treatments and outcomes.
What is the outlook if my child has a sacral dimple?
Most people with a sacral dimple don’t have any symptoms or complications that need treatment. Your child should go on to lead a normal, healthy life.
Are there complications or side effects associated with a sacral dimple?
Most sacral dimples don’t have any other problems. Some people have extra hair growth around the dimple throughout their life. Dimples that are deeper than normal can develop infections due to trapped germs. Keeping these dimples clean will help reduce the risk of infection.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sacral dimples are common and don’t cause any major issues. If your child has a sacral dimple, they’ll most likely go on to live a normal, healthy life. The sacral dimple shouldn’t have any effect on their movement or lifestyle. Rarely, sacral dimples can be a sign of an underlying health condition. Your child’s healthcare provider will examine your child’s sacral dimple closely to determine if it’s a symptom of something they need to treat.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy