Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Is the lump on the back of my neck a carbuncle?"

ZocdocAnswersIs the lump on the back of my neck a carbuncle?


I have a lump on the back of my neck near where my back starts that is very sensitive to the touch and is throbbing with pain. Is this a carbuncle?


It sounds like you are in quite a bit of pain. I recommend that you get in to see your doctor right away to help you figure out what is going on. A carbuncle is large reddened area of skin infection filled with pus. It is usually very obvious when someone has a carbuncle because of the redness and draining pus. If you do not have these symptoms then it is unlikely to be a carbuncle; however, if you do have these symptoms, then this will probably require drainage by your doctor and a prescription of antibiotics to clear things up. Another possibility would be a sebaceous cyst, which occur commonly on the neck, and look like raised bumps. Periodically sebaceous cysts can become inflamed and painful and may leak a thick foul smelling material through a pore. Sebaceous cysts are typically removed surgically (a simple procedure which can be done in the office), which is curative. I would go see your doctor right away to get a diagnosis. If you have severe symptoms like fever or spreading redness on the skin, then you should go to the emergency room.

Need more info?

See a doctor today

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.