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Infected cyst/abscess
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Infected cyst/abscess

I have had a smallish (maybe 2 cm in diameter) skin abscess or infected cyst on my back next to my cervical spine for the last 2 weeks which doesn't seem to be getting bigger or coming to a head (I tried squeezing it thinking it was a pimple at first.) When I touch it, it feels soft/puffy as though there's some fluid under it (same as a gum boil) and it's no longer hot/painful, just itchy sometimes. I'm also getting shooting pain up my neck and don my back in the same area, which feels like it could be muscular, but could a small abscess cause this kind of pain without being very large (possibly spreading?) and should I be concerned since I can't see my doctor for another 2 weeks. I have no experience with skin infections like this.
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1760307_tn?1313521269
Dear acz1981,

You have provided a good description of your problem. Going by your description, you seem to have a sebaceous cyst .Sebaceous cysts are common on the upper back and it is soft to touch. It can hurt if it is infected but not otherwise.

Usually it doesn't lead to any pain in the back ,but one may experience pain if the cyst touches a superficial nerve endings. In such a case I would advise you to get it removed surgically.

For the time being you can take a pain killer with a muscle relaxant , which would give you relief from pain. I don't see any emergency at the moment  and I feel you can wait for 2 weeks to consult a competent dermatologist.

Hope I've answered your query. Should you have any additional concerns, I would be happy to address it.

Thank you for using MedHelp's "Ask an Expert" Service, where we feature some of world's renowned medical experts in their fields. Millions have benefitted from our service to get personalized advice for them and for their loved ones.

Best Regards,
Dr. Bharat Chawda
3 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you very much for your reply. I would like to add that my main concern is that my lesion might be from some kind of staph infection (which I've read online causes boils and abscesses) and that it could possibly spread and affect my spine, because of it's location. Would this only happen with a much larger skin infection? Can a sebaceous cyst also be infected this way?
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1760307_tn?1313521269
Dear acz1981,

Thank you for the reply.

Yes, a sebaceous cyst can get affected by a Staph infection but the infection is always localized and does not involve the spine. A staph infection of a boil can go deeper and cause cellulitis.  If the cyst is very big in size, it can put pressure on surrounding structures and cause related symptoms. Such infections can be treated with an appropriate antibiotic, especially one which acts on gram positive bacteria. You may discuss with your doctor if you need such therapy. But I do not think you need to worry about your spine getting affected.

Hope, this answers your query.

Wish you good health.

Best Regards
Dr. Bharat Chawda.
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