Abscess


Overview

A skin abscess is a collection of pus and infected material in or on the skin.

Symptoms

  • Fever or chills, in some cases
  • Local swelling, hardening of tissue (induration)
  • Skin lesion
  • Open or closed sore, domed nodule
  • Redness
  • May drain fluid
  • Tender and warm affected area

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. The doctor may cut and drain the abscess to clean the area and control the infection. Antibiotics are given by mouth to control the infection.

Heat (such as warm compresses) may speed healing, reduce inflammation, and make the area feel better. Raise the affected part to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Causes

Skin abscesses are fairly common. They occur when an infection causes pus and infected material to collect in the skin. Skin abscesses may occur after:

  • A bacterial infection (often staphylococcus)
  • A minor wound or injury
  • Boils
  • Folliculitis (often caused by ingrown hair)

Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. They affect people of all ages.

Tests & diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose the condition based on the appearance of the area. A culture or examination of any drainage from the lesion may help identify what organism is causing it.

Prognosis

Most skin abscesses can be cured with proper treatment.

Prevention

Prevent and watch for bacterial infections. Keep the skin around minor wounds clean and dry. Consult the health care provider if you develop signs of infection. Treat minor infections promptly.

Complications

  • Prevention of the proper functioning of nearby tissues
  • Spread of infection around the same area or throughout the body
  • Spread of infection through the bloodstream, causing:
  • Abscess formation on the joints or other locations
  • Endocarditis
  • Many new abscesses ("seeding" of infection)
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Tissue death (gangrene)

When to contact a doctor

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any signs of skin infection, including:

  • Drainage of any kind
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

 

To schedule a consultation or to receive more information, please contact us.