Skin Abscess

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Skin Abscess


What is Abscess?

An abscess is an infection described by a collection of pus discharge underneath a part of the skin. Bacteria causing abscesses are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus. These bacteria enter the skin through any breaks, cracks or damage to the skin. That zone of skin then ends up becoming red, delicate, warm and swollen over days to 1 to 2 weeks and fever may also develop. Abscesses can sometimes form if minor shallow skin diseases are not treated properly at the right time. Most abscesses resolve rapidly if appropriately treated.

Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is a strain of "staph" bacteria resistant to antibiotic agents in the penicillin family, which have been the foundation of antibiotic treatment for staph and skin diseases for quite a long time. CA-MRSA previously infected just little fragments of the population, for example, health care workers and people utilizing injection drugs. However, CA-MRSA is currently a typical reason for skin diseases in the general population. While CA-MRSA bacteria are impervious to penicillin and penicillin-related anti-biotics, most staph diseases with CA-MRSA can be effortlessly treated by health care practitioners utilizing local skincare and commonly accessible non-penicillin-family anti-biotics. Very rarely, CA-MRSA can cause serious skin and soft tissue (deeper) diseases. Staph infections typically begin as small red bumps or pus-filled boils, which can quickly transform into deep infection and painful sores.



Factors that predispose for developing an abscess include:

  • Any untreated skin infection
  • Diabetes
  • Weekend immunity system
  • Intravenous drug abuse


Causes of Abscess are:

The Root cause of an abscess is a bacterial infection.

When bacterias enter your body, your immunity system sends infection battling white blood cells to the affected zone.

As the white blood cells attack the bacteria, some nearby tissue dies, making a hole which then gets filled with pus which further forms an abscess. The pus contains a blend of dead tissue, white blood cells, and bacteria.

Inner abscesses frequently develop the complexity of a current condition, for example, an infection somewhere else in your body. For example, if your appendix blasts because of appendicitis, bacteria can spread inside your stomach (abdomen) and cause an abscess to form.


Who’s at the risk of developing abscess?

  1. A person who is suffering from diabetes is more prone to develop an abscess
  2. If someone who has an infection caused by staphylococcal bacteria has chances to develop an abscess.
  3. A person who has a weak immune system due to HIV or Chemotherapy can easily develop this infection
  4. A person who has any underlying inflammatory condition has a greater risk to develop an abscess.


Signs and Symptoms:

Skin abscess is usually swollen, pus-filled lump under the layer of the skin. Other symptoms such as Fever, infection and chills could also be the indications. It is difficult to analyze abscess inside the body. Signs of abscess include:

  • A very high fever
  • Unwell feeling
  • Pain in the affected area.


Development of an abscess:

An abscess is developed when the immunity system isolates an infected area to keep the infection from spreading. The Immunity system does it by sending leukocytes specialized white blood cells to the infected area. These cells fight and destroy infectious microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Formation of pus within the involved tissue is because of the clash in white blood cells and the bacteria. A wall of tissue develops around the infection site with time and this wall forms an abscess.

Is Abscess contagious?

Growing abscess is usually red and warm if you touch it. It consists of puss, but it’s not contagious. But you need to understand that abscess is developed because of the type of bacterial infection, which can spread from person to person which further causes different types of infections. Hands should be properly washed after you touch any boil which has pus coming out of it. Washing the towels and cloths which came into the contact with that draining or open boil is equally important because that can spread infection too. There are 2 types of the abscess.

1. Skin Abscess- Abscess is developed when bacteria enter under the surface of your skin. This abscess can be developed anywhere on the body, including hands, feet, underarms, feet, buttocks, genitals and trunk. A Blocked sebaceous gland in the skin may also help to develop it.

2. Internal Abscess- Abscess inside the tummy develops because the infection reaches deep tissues in the body. This happens due to abdominal surgery, injury or infection spreading from nearby areas.


Self-care Guidelines

No self-care options are available for abscess. Warm compresses can be applied to the affected area and take ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and swelling.


When to seek Medical care?

  • The sore is larger than 1 cm or ½ inch across.
  • The sore fails to heal or it continues to enlarge and becomes more painful.
  • The person has an underlying illness such as HIV/AIDScancerdiabetes, sickle cell disease, or peripheral vascular disease.
  • The person has a fever of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher.
  • The sore is located at the top of the buttock crease, or it is on or near the rectal or groin area.

Worsening red swelling is the indication that a person should look for a doctor as soon as possible. If the area of the swelling includes face or in the area that severely limits your functionality and is spreading rapidly then you should seek an emergency care.


Treatment for Abscess

Your doctor may drain the discharge and fluid accumulation by making a small incision point in the skin after it has been numbed. This will drain a larger part of the bacteria, helping the body battle the little sum that remaining parts. This fluid may then be sent to a laboratory for testing. The result will not only tell the doctor what kind of bacteria is causing the disease but also what antibiotic agents will work best to treat it. This may take about 2 to 3 days. Your doctor may tell you to begin oral antibiotics aimed for treating the most common bacteria that cause abscesses while awaiting these outcomes. However, if the disease is small and it has been drained, your doctor may choose to not treat you with oral antibiotics.

How to prevent Skin Abscess?

  • Use separate towels.
  • Never squeeze the pus out of the abscess, that can easily spread the bacteria to other person.
  • Keep good skin hygiene.
  • If tissues are used to clean the pus, then immediately dump those tissues.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Take care while shaving face or underarm areas to avoid nicking your skin.
  • Do not share razors or toothbrushes with anyone.


Things to be prohibited strictly

  • Never attempt to drain the abscess by pressing it.
  • Do not stick a needle or any sharp instrument to the abscess.
  • If the boil starts draining, let it drain, do not try to stop it by applying anything on it.


Home remedies for Skin abscess

If the abscess is small and less than 1 cm or less than an inch, applying warm compresses to that area for half an hour, 4 times a day would help it recover faster and relieve the pain.

*Disclaimer-  None of the information provided here is the substitute for any diagnosis or treatment by your health professional. Seek the advice of your qualified health provider or your physician in case of any critical or major health issue does not rely on this information in case of any emergency.

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Written by -

Padma Lekhi