Abscess

Abscess punctured

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Draining an abscess is a complex and risky procedure and must be done by a professional to ensure it doesn’t get further infected. While draining an abscess few things are an absolute mandate such as the instruments being sterile. This includes the gloves, blades, syringe, and dressing material. Never squeeze the abscess or press it with your fingers. Doctors usually begin the procedure by numbing the area with local anesthesia. The area will be covered with antiseptic agent and bandages to prevent further infection.
If the abscess is relatively small in size it can be treated at home. Applying heat can improve circulation to the affected area; brings more WBCs closer to the surface. This can be done 4-5 times a day for 20 minutes each time. You can also make use of anti-bacterial home remedies such as turmeric, tea tree oil, and Epsom salt for treating an abscess. Neem oil and castor oil are also beneficial in treating an abscess. Note that essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before applying on the skin. If the abscess is larger, consult a doctor for treating/draining it.
Never attempt to drain a large abscess at home. If the abscess is small, it can be treated at home however it is unsafe to pop it. Popping, squeezing, and picking on the abscess will result in further infection and inflammation. Never touch an abscess with your bare hands. Always apply warm compress on it. Use a clean washcloth and lukewarm water and apply it gently on the abscess for few minutes, 4-5 times a day. In most cases it will drain naturally and heal on its own.
Abscess on tooth or periapical abscess doesn’t heal on its own and requires medical attention. If left untreated (or poorly treated) it can easily spread to other areas in your mouth and even your head and neck. A simple endodontic procedure called root canal can be done if the tooth abscess is small. In case it has spread to a larger area, the tooth would require extraction. An antibiotic course would be prescribed till the region has completely healed.

Overview

When bacteria invade the body, the immune system responds by attacking the pathogens and creating inflammation at the site of their entry. White blood cells arrive at the site to disable the bacteria. This process produces some amount of debris containing dead tissue, worn out immune cells and dead bacteria. You may have noticed this in the form of a thick, opaque fluid that is usually white or yellowish in color, although it can sometimes be greenish or blood-tinged as well. This is known as pus. The presence of pus indicates a bacterial infection.

What Is An Abscess?

Abscess woundWhen a pocket of pus accumulates somewhere beneath the skin or even deeper within the body’s tissues, it forms what is known as an abscess. Abscesses can be painful. Those located closer to the surface of the skin produces noticeable reddening and swelling. This can happen when a hair follicle or gland becomes clogged. Common skin boils are examples of abscesses.

When you have an infection somewhere within the body and it remains untreated, it can worsen to the extent of producing an abscess. In fact, abscesses are even known to form in vital organs such as the lungs and the brain. Those located deeper within the body are more difficult to pinpoint as the patient may only have a fever and some pain in the general area.

Unlike a pustule on the skin that may rupture and drain spontaneously, abscesses are usually treated by opening them and draining them by artificial means.

What Is Responsible For Abscess Formation?

Generally speaking, an abscess is the result of bacterial infection. The infection itself may be contracted in any number of ways. Bacteria may penetrate the skin through minor cuts or large wounds. Alternatively, other kinds of abscesses such as those in the anal region may arise as the result of sexually transmitted infections. In other cases, the infection is already present in an organ such as the lungs or it may spread to that spot from a nearby organ and when this is allowed to go untreated, it can worsen and give rise to an abscess.

Hence, any condition that increases the probability of contracting infection is automatically treated as a potential risk factor for abscess formation. This is especially true of individuals with a weakened immunity.

Here are some scenarios that may be considered risk factors for abscesses:

  • Cuts or breaks in the skin.
  • Lack of personal hygiene.
  • Sharing personal products with individuals who have infections, particularly skin infections.
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected individual.
  • Untreated or severe infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
  • Having an immune deficiency which may be acquired or congenital.
  • Weak immunity as a result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • HIV infection.
  • Long-standing illness such as cancer or diabetes.
  • Any condition that impairs blood circulation.
  • Postoperative infection.
  • Having intravenous tubes or catheters.
  • Substance abuse.

What Are The Signs And Indication Of An Abscess?

Abscess puncturedIf you have a relatively superficially located abscess, you will most probably notice the following indications:

  • Localised swelling, forming a lump or a boil.
  • The pus within may be visible.
  • Reddening at the site and around it.
  • The area is warm to the touch.
  • It may be tender or painful. Sometimes there is a throbbing pain at the site of the abscess.
  • You may have a fever and chills.

More specific symptoms related to the exact location of the abscess. Those in the anal region will tend to cause pain during bowel movements. However, if an abscess is located internally, you may display no external signs apart from a fever.

What Are The Different Types Of Abscesses?

Broadly, abscesses may be classified depending on whether they are located closer to the skin surface or deeper within the body. As we have already seen, the kinds of symptoms that each type creates can vary significantly.

Further, abscesses may be described on the basis of their specific location. For example, there are documented instances of brain abscesses, lung abscesses, stomach abscesses and even abscesses in the prostate gland. The last mentioned type can occur as a result of untreated infection in the prostate gland which might itself be a complication of urinary tract infection or an STI. Lung abscesses can develop when the patient has an untreated lung infection.

Should I Be Worried About Any Complications?

Patients should avoid poking at an abscess or attempting to drain it on their own because this can cause the infection to spread even deeper into the body. This may give rise to more abscesses or even infections in nearby organs. In fact, the bacteria may even spread into the bloodstream and set off a potentially fatal condition known as sepsis. A less critical but nevertheless severe outcome may involve the localized death of tissue or gangrene in the affected area.

Stop the abscess from growing in size and getting infected with these doctor-recommended solutions.

How Are Abscesses Diagnosed And Treated?

Abscess eyelidIf you have a skin abscess, your doctor will be able to identify it upon visual and physical examination. Testing a pus sample from the site will help to identify the specific pathogen involved. Internally located abscesses may only be identified and precisely located with the help of imaging procedures such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If you have multiple abscesses or recurring ones, your doctor may suspect a deeper underlying problem, one that impairs the immunity in some way. Depending on other symptoms displayed by the patient or guided by their medical history, other tests may be performed in order to pinpoint the underlying problem.

Smaller abscesses may rupture and clear up on their own. Larger ones will require incision and drainage. This task is best left to a medical professional. Drainage of an abscess may involve a minor surgical procedure and the wound will then be bound up to keep it sterile until it heals. In some cases, especially when the abscess is severe, the patient will also be prescribed antibiotic medications.

If it is a small skin abscess then it may well simply shrink or drain naturally, dry up, and disappear. In such situation, no treatment will be required.

But, if it is a large abscess then for clearing the infection you may have to take antibiotics. Additionally, it may become necessary to drain out the pus. For draining the pus your doctor will normally make a small incision in the skin at the location of the abscess.

Prevention

Skin abscesses occur when bacteria get into the root of a hair, a minor wound, or a blocked sweat gland. You can prevent chances of skin abscesses by making sure skin remains clean and healthy.

Few things you can do to stop bacteria from spreading include:

  • Wash hands regularly.
  • Use separate towels and do not share baths.
  • Wait for the abscess to fully heal before using any type of communal equipment like gym equipment.

Abscesses are fairly common and can be painful and inconvenient. They should not be ignored because allowing the infection to fester can actually lead to worse outcomes if the bacteria spread further into the body. With superficial abscesses, the good news is that treatment is fairly simple and quick and the condition is actually preventable if one does not have an underlying condition that permanently weakens one’s immunity. Maintaining basic personal hygiene and in one’s immediate surroundings can help to avoid such infections.

Draining an abscess is a complex and risky procedure and must be done by a professional to ensure it doesn’t get further infected. While draining an abscess few things are an absolute mandate such as the instruments being sterile. This includes the gloves, blades, syringe, and dressing material. Never squeeze the abscess or press it with your fingers. Doctors usually begin the procedure by numbing the area with local anesthesia. The area will be covered with antiseptic agent and bandages to prevent further infection.
If the abscess is relatively small in size it can be treated at home. Applying heat can improve circulation to the affected area; brings more WBCs closer to the surface. This can be done 4-5 times a day for 20 minutes each time. You can also make use of anti-bacterial home remedies such as turmeric, tea tree oil, and Epsom salt for treating an abscess. Neem oil and castor oil are also beneficial in treating an abscess. Note that essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before applying on the skin. If the abscess is larger, consult a doctor for treating/draining it.
Never attempt to drain a large abscess at home. If the abscess is small, it can be treated at home however it is unsafe to pop it. Popping, squeezing, and picking on the abscess will result in further infection and inflammation. Never touch an abscess with your bare hands. Always apply warm compress on it. Use a clean washcloth and lukewarm water and apply it gently on the abscess for few minutes, 4-5 times a day. In most cases it will drain naturally and heal on its own.
Abscess on tooth or periapical abscess doesn’t heal on its own and requires medical attention. If left untreated (or poorly treated) it can easily spread to other areas in your mouth and even your head and neck. A simple endodontic procedure called root canal can be done if the tooth abscess is small. In case it has spread to a larger area, the tooth would require extraction. An antibiotic course would be prescribed till the region has completely healed.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Do take care while shaving underarms or face to avoid cuts.
  • If tissues are used for wiping the pus then such tissues should be disposed immediately. This will help in preventing germs from spreading.
  • Do consult your medical practitioner if you think there is something trapped under the skin.
Don'ts
  • Squeeze the pus out since it can easily spread bacteria to other parts of the skin.
  • Share toothbrushes and razors with the infected person.
  • Stick a needle into the abscess since there could be underlying blood vessels which will get injured.

 

 

 

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kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Sushi: health benefits and recipes Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with vinegared rice served with fish (often raw), vegetables, and other…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
Did you know vitamin E can fight these fatal diseases? Vitamin E, an essential fat-soluble vitamin, is key to building strong immunity, for healthy eyes, and skin. It…
PULMONARY EMBOLISM
IVC Filter Implantation IVC or inferior vena cava implantation is a minimally-invasive procedure to arrest blood clots and prevent them from…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Threatened abortion
A few facts about threatened abortion A threatened miscarriage indicates an early pregnancy loss. Look out for symptoms like bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain.
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
labiaplasty
Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
Hemp Seeds: The actual science behind this controversial crop Inspite of being credited as a superfood, hemp seeds are still shrouded with layers of controversies. Are these…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
cystoscopy
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is a procedure to check the health of the urethra and the bladder. The procedure is also…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
Aphasia brain scans
Neuroendoscopy Neuroendoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery used to treat disorders of brain, spine, head, etc.
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
Gynecomastia or male breast enlargement
Gynecomastia Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. Learn about the treatment options, surgeries, and post-op care for…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Nootropics: How safe are these drugs that make you smarter? Nootropics is a group of cognition-enhancing substances that facilitate better learning, memory, and other executive functions pertaining to…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
Cellphones and Human Brain
Cellphones and Human Brain – Are Cellphones a Slow Poison to Our Brains? Cellphones have become an intricate part of our lives but they can be highly addictive and overuse can…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
Splenda
Splenda Splenda is an artificial sweetener derived from Stevia plant extracts. It is low in calories and a popular…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…

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