Skin abscess

What is a skin abscess?

A skin abscess is a localized collection of pus. It usually occurs as a result of infection or due to the presence of other foreign bodies under the skin.

An abscess is painful and appears as a bump that is warmer than the surrounding skin to the touch. The skin in the area around the abscess is pink in color or reddened.

An abscess can develop in many places on the body, but it usually appears on the surface of the skin. Skin abscess is more popularly known as boil. The areas most often affected are the armpits, groin, rectum – perirectal abscess.

What are the causes of a skin abscess?

A skin abscess is in most cases the result of inflammation or infection by bacteria or parasites and less often from the penetration of a foreign body into the skin.

An abscess can also develop around blocked sebaceous or sweat glands, in case of inflammation of hair follicles or around small wounds on the skin. Abscess can also form in the period after surgical intervention.

What are the symptoms?

A skin abscess is a disease that can cause significant malaise and discomfort in affected individuals.

It usually develops as a reaction to an infection, often caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. The symptoms of a skin abscess are varied and may change during the evolution of the abscess.

Initially, the affected area of ​​skin may feel tender and slightly swollen. Over time, the swelling grows and becomes noticeable to the touch.

The skin around the abscess becomes red and warmer to the touch due to the inflammatory process that develops.

Pain is also one of the characteristic features, and the affected area may be painful even to the lightest touch.

This painful symptom can limit the movement of the affected part of the body and cause discomfort during normal activities.

As an abscess develops, its interior fills with pus — a mixture of bacteria, dead lung cells, and white blood cells that have gathered to fight infection.

This pus can be felt as soft, pulsating contents in the abscess.

Over time, if no measures are taken to alleviate the condition, the abscess may burst on its own, releasing its pus.

This can lead to relief from the increasing pressure in the area and a reduction in pain.

However, there is a risk that the abscess will not drain completely, and the purulent fluid will remain trapped in the depths of the abscess.

This can encourage the infection to spread to the deeper layers of the skin and even cause a bacterial infection of the blood known as sepsis.

Sepsis is a serious condition that can have fatal consequences, and its symptoms can include high body temperature, rapid heart rate, clouding of consciousness and general survival.

Therefore, it is essential to monitor skin abscess symptoms carefully and take appropriate measures to alleviate the condition.

If you notice such symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical advice.

A medical professional can assess the severity of the condition and provide the necessary treatment, which may include drainage of the abscess, administration of antibiotics, and other appropriate therapies.

To reduce the risk of skin abscesses, it is important to maintain good skin hygiene, wash your hands regularly, avoid direct contact with contaminated surfaces, and take care of skin wounds and injuries to reduce the possibility of infection.

Treatment of skin abscess

  • If the abscess is smaller – with a diameter of about 1 cm., warm compresses in the area of ​​the abscess are useful. It is recommended to do them 4 times a day for about 30 minutes.
  • In no case try to “squeeze” the abscess by applying pressure on it, as this can push out the infected tissue deeper into the skin.
  • Do not attempt to burst the abscess by puncturing it with a needle or other sharp instrument, as this may injure a major blood vessel or cause the infection to spread.

In most cases, the abscess does not go away on its own and therefore needs to be removed by your doctor.

Initially, the abscess is likely to be very firm, and therefore, during this period, it would be impossible for your doctor to cut and drain it.

Once the abscess has softened, your doctor can remove it using a local anesthetic to make the procedure painless.

An antiseptic solution is applied to the site of the abscess and sterile bandages are placed around the abscess.

The doctor cuts open the abscess with a scalpel and drains all the pus and removes the tissue contained in the abscess.

Sometimes there may be several pockets of pus in the abscess, which should also be identified and drained.

In most cases, people feel relief immediately after the abscess is drained, and the doctor who performed the procedure may prescribe pain relievers to keep the patient from feeling severe pain after the anesthetic wears off.

How to protect yourself from a skin abscess?

  • Maintain excellent personal hygiene by washing your skin with soap and water regularly.
  • Try to avoid shaving cuts in the underarm and genital area.
  • Always seek medical attention for puncture wounds, especially if you suspect foreign bodies have entered the wound or the skin during the injury.

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