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Skin Abscess - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


An abscess is an infected skin nodule containing pus formed by the tissue on the basis of an infectious process or other foreign materials. It is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent the spread of infectious materials to other parts of the body.Pus is mainly a collection of millions of dead cells from your immune system that have tried to deal with an infection. Pus also contains many germs and the dead body cells that they have killed. It usually contains white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria.

Abscesses inside the body usually occur in the spaces between the internal organs.It occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body is able to "wall off" the infection to keep it from spreading. White blood cells, migrate through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collect within the damaged tissue. During this process "pus" forms.

Abscesses can form in almost every part of the body. Abscesses in the skin are readily visible and are red, raised, and painful. Abscesses in other areas of the body may not be obvious, but if they involve vital organs they may cause significant damage. They affect people of all ages

A skin abscess is better known as a common boil. A peritonsillar abscess is a persistent collection of pus behind the tonsils and a perianal abscess is a pool of pus that forms next to the anus.

Causes of skin abscess:

The causes of skin abscess are :-

  • The main cause of skin abscess is an infection with bacteria .These include: Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes . The infection causes the immune system to activate white blood cells and chemicals to fight the bacteria. In this process,some tissue dies and forms a cavity, fills with pus.
  • Surgery:- The recent surgery may be a cause of infection to the skin.
  • Diabetes:- The diabetic patients are more prone to get affected by skin abscess.
  • Chickenpox:- The person, who got chickenpox infection recently , are more likely to be involved in skin abscess.
  • Immunodeficiency disorder: in which the body's infection-fighting mechanisms are impaired. People with AIDS, for example, have a significant risk of skin abscess.
  • Steroids:- The chronic use of steroids are also causes skin abscess.
  • Some boils can be caused by an ingrown hair.
  • wounds or injuries to the skin:- The injury to the skin, may also cause abscess.
  • Folliculitis:- Folliculitis is an infection of a hair follicle, which causes the skin abscess.
  • when the sebaceous glands or sweat glands become blocked, the hair follicles become inflamed. thus, form the skin abscess.

Symptoms for skin abscess:

  • Abscess will be in the form of open sore or closed, domed nodule.
  • The infected part may swell due to the bacterial growth.
  • The inflammation of the skin is a primary symptom of skin abscess.
  • There may be pain in the defected part of the skin and you will feel tenderness.
  • Fatigue:- Fatigueness may also occur.
  • Loss of appetite:- The person suffering from skin abscess, they have the symptom of loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss also seen sometimes in case of skin abscess.
  • Alternating bouts of fever & chills.
  • Skin lesion may also be there.
  • Affected area may be warm to touch.

Treatment for Skin abscess:

The important treatment for skin abscess includes:-

  • Antibiotics such as dicloxacillin are given to control the infection. 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.
  • Heat may speed healing, reduce inflammation and make the area feel better.
  • Surgical incision and drainage of the abscess, with or without packing for 24 to 48 hours, cleans the area and allows infection to be controlled.
  • To heal an abscess, it is recommended to have plenty of bed rest, drink plenty of fluids, and either apply ice packs or take hot baths to alleviate the pain.
  • The blood must be cleansed and vitamin deficiencies that accompany skin eruptions must be corrected so as to aid in healing,
  • Keep a daily record of your weight.

Herbal remedies for skin abscess

  • The following herbs are beneficial for healing abscesses and cleansing the blood: burdock root, cayenne , dandelion root, red clover and yellow dock root.
  • Goldenseal made into a poultice can be directly applied to the abscess or apply alcohol-free goldenseal.
  • Extract to sterile gauze and place the gauze over the abscess.
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