An abscess on the back is a cavity filled with pus that is created by the death of cells and the melting of tissue.

Colloquially, an abscess is also referred to as a large pus, ulcer or boil. The abscess is demarcated from the surrounding tissue with a capsule to prevent the inflammation from spreading throughout the body. Under no circumstances should you self-treat an abscess on your back, as this may worsen the inflammation. Affected must see a doctor.

Symptoms of a back abscess

An abscess on the back can lie deep under the skin and is not always directly visible from the outside. Depending on how severe the inflammation is, the abscess can vary in size: the size ranges from small nodules to pus bumps several centimeters in size.

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There is a large accumulation of pus under the skin on the back and the encapsulation of the abscess is clearly palpable as a round induration. In some cases - similar to a pus pimple - a white-yellowish pus head can be seen on the skin. An abscess is accompanied by the typical symptoms of inflammation, including severe reddening, warming, and swelling of the affected area. The area on the back is throbbing and extremely sensitive to pressure. The skin overlying the abscess is very stretched. Usually abscesses are extremely painful, and sitting or lying down can cause massive pain.

Large abscesses can also lead to fever, fatigue, and a general feeling of illness. If the abscess opens and the bacteria spread in the body, life-threatening complications can arise. The pathogens can get into the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning (sepsis) there. This is an inflammatory reaction that affects the whole body and causes high fever, chills, and impaired consciousness.

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Read more on this topic:

  • Symptoms of an abscess
  • Lump on the back

Causes of a back abscess

An abscess is generally caused by infection or damage to the skin, which allows pathogens to enter the body. Typical abscess pathogens are Staphylococcus aureus or streptococci, which occur naturally on human skin. The body reacts to the bacteria with an inflammatory response and tries to fight the pathogens. The inflammation creates pus, which collects in a newly formed cavity made of melted tissue. Pus is a white-yellowish secretion that mainly consists of submerged immune cells, dead bacteria and dead tissue. The body encapsulates the inflammation with a layer of connective tissue to protect the surrounding tissue from damage and to prevent the infection from spreading.

A weakened immune system is often the cause of an abscess, for example in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus. The bacteria get under the skin through small injuries or abrasions and the body is unable to get the infection under control.

An abscess on the back can also have other causes. During puberty there is a change in the hormonal balance, which causes skin changes and pimples. By pushing around and scratching the pimples, pathogens can get into the wound and form an abscess.
Wearing tight clothing that rubs against the back rubs the skin. As a result, pathogens can enter the body and lead to the formation of an abscess. Poor personal hygiene can also promote the development of an abscess.

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Diagnosing a back abscess

The doctor can usually detect superficial abscesses on the back through a simple visual diagnosis of the appearance and the typical symptoms of inflammation. Deep abscesses are not immediately visible from the outside. In such cases, the doctor may need to diagnose the abscess using an ultrasound scan. To determine which bacterium caused the abscess, the doctor may take a smear of the pus and have it analyzed. It is also possible to take a blood sample in order to examine the blood for certain inflammatory parameters.

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Read more on the topic: bump on the back

Treatment of a back abscess

The most important thing when treating an abscess is that the boil should never be pricked or squeezed out yourself. Treatment should only be carried out by a doctor, otherwise serious complications can occur.

Smaller abscesses on the back often do not need to be treated and usually go away on their own. Larger abscesses are often extremely painful, and patients must always see a doctor to treat the abscess. Usually, the patient is given a small tip in the back for anesthesia and the doctor cuts open the boil so the pus can drain out and the abscess drained.Superficial abscesses can be opened through a small incision, whereas abscesses deep under the skin must be completely cut out. To prevent a purulent encapsulation from forming again, the pus and inflamed tissue must be completely removed. The wound caused by the operation is not sutured, but heals openly.

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Abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection. Treatment with antibiotics can help with very small abscesses or inflammation in the early stages. In the further course, however, the abscesses encapsulate themselves against the surrounding tissue and antibiotic treatment alone is not enough to successfully combat the inflammation. The capsule around the abscess not only protects the surrounding tissue from infection, but also prevents drugs from penetrating the abscess and effectively fighting the pathogens. After an abscess is surgically split, the antibiotic can reach and kill the bacteria that have remained in the wound. Especially in patients who have suffered from large abscesses and fever, the doctor also prescribes an antibiotic after the operation.

You might also be interested in: Home remedies for an abscess

To prevent an abscess on the back, care should be taken to ensure adequate hygiene and clothing that does not fit too tightly and does not rub. In rare cases, recurring abscesses are an indication of an immune system disorder. The cause can be clarified by a doctor.

Abscesses can also recur, so it is recommended to prevent abscesses in everyday life. You can find out how to prevent abscesses here: What is the best way to prevent an abscess?

Should I express the abscess?

An abscess on the back or any other part of the body must under no circumstances be expressed by yourself.
Pushing around improperly can spread the bacteria and make inflammation worse. If the bacteria get into the blood, they cause life-threatening blood poisoning and can spread throughout the body. Therefore, a doctor must always be consulted to treat an abscess.

Also read our article: Betaisodona spray used to treat an abscess

Back abscess surgery

Surgery on an abscess is the only way to permanently remove the abscess on your back. An abscess cannot be treated surgically until it is mature, which means that sufficient pus has accumulated in the tissue cavity. Immature boils can be treated with pulling ointment. It is a special ointment that "pulls" the inflammation under the skin to the surface and accelerates the maturation of the abscess.

During the actual operation, the patient is given a local anesthetic on the back and the doctor cuts open the abscess. The purulent secretion can drain through the opening and the abscess can heal. For large abscesses, the doctor may place a drain that drains the pus.
After the abscess is surgically split, the wound is not sutured but remains open. This prevents the accumulations of pus and bacteria from re-encapsulating themselves and leading to the formation of an abscess again. For the wound dressing, a compress is soaked in an antiseptic (germicidal) liquid and placed in the wound. The patient must clean and care for the wound independently until the wound has completely healed.

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In severe cases, a smear is taken in addition to surgery to identify the pathogen. Oral or intravenous antibiotic therapy is then prescribed.

Further information on this topic can be found at:

  • Surgery of an abscess
  • Treat abscess with an ointment

Duration of healing of a back abscess

How long it takes for an abscess on the back to heal depends primarily on the size and location of the abscess. Surgical cleavage by a doctor is the only way the abscess can heal permanently. After the operation, the wound remains open and must be cleaned regularly by the patient. Depending on the size of the abscess, several days or weeks can pass before the wound is completely closed.

Also read: Healing An Abscess - What To Look For!

Abscess in the neck

Painful abscesses often form in the neck. Usually the cause of an abscess in the neck is an inflamed hair follicle (folliculitis). The hair follicle inflammation is caused by bacteria, in most cases Staphylococcus aureus. Excessive sweating or excessive sebum production by the skin can cause the hair follicle to close and the bacteria to multiply. The bacteria migrate along the hair shaft into the deep layers of the skin and lead to inflammation of the tissue and the formation of pus.

In the neck, folliculitis is often promoted by the use of hair conditioners. Conditioner residues clog the pores on the back and promote the development of skin impurities, which can subsequently lead to an abscess. The resulting abscess is red, swollen, and filled with pus. In many cases, the pus drains spontaneously and the abscess heals. A doctor should be consulted in the case of persistent or particularly large and painful inflammation in the neck.

Read more on the topic: Abscess in the neck

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