September 23, 2018

Ask The Doctor > Questions & Answers > A long term lump on my back that is suddenly painful and red

A long term lump on my back that is suddenly painful and red

Patient: Dear Doctors, Dear Doctors, I have a lump on my back. It is halfway up and about 1 to 1.5 inches to the left of the spine. It is under the skin, which still feels smooth and, until recently, was the normal colour. It is hard to touch, and looks about the size of a marble, with the overall size of the lump being slightly less than an inch across. This appeared 9-12 months ago, and all indications told me it was only a lipoma. In the past week, the situation has changed, it has suddenly gotten painful and turned a dark red colour. As far as I know, this occurred quite quickly. The pain is localised to the area of the lump, and only the lump is dark red. My instinct tells me this could be because it has become swollen due to aggravation or irritation, although I would like to know if this change is characteristic of anything else like cancer. Perhaps this means it is a cyst that popped and not a lipoma? I did book an appointment with the doctor but the receptionist messed it up resulting in me missing it. Should I book another appointment? I don’t want to waste their time if there is nothing to worry about. Thus far I am putting anti-inflammatory pain relief cream on it, which is menthol based. Not sure if its working yet. What do you think it could be? Best Regards Tom



Doctor: The lump on your back could indeed be an inflammed epidermoid cyst or a furuncle. Epidermoid cysts can become tender and swollen, even if they’re not infected. In most cases an infalmmed cyst requires incision and drainage to express the contents.  I would recommend that you book another appointment to see your doctor.




Dr. Jimmy Obaji M.D.

Dr. Jimmy Obaji completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He currently operates a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

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