Abscess

Abscess punctured

Last Updated July 29th, 2019

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.

Faster Healing

Neosporin cream

Dual Action

Tea tree oil

Terrasil ointment

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.

Facts

  • 10% of patients develop a repeat abscess within next 12 months.
  • Most common sites for abscesses are ear and leg.

Facts

  • About 50% of people with perirectal abscesses can have swelling around their rectum.
  • There are more than 10 million cases of abscess in India every year.

Facts

  • The average age for onset of brain abscess is between 24-57 years.
  • Men are generally more susceptible to brain abscess compared to women.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

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.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the female clitoris to…
apple cider vinegar weight loss
Apple cider vinegar: Weight loss, shinier hair, and more! Did you know that apple cider vinegar, produced by the simple fermentation of apple juice, could hold the…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
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…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
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…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
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…
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…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
back pain relief
Don’t choose pain: 10 truths about your back ache (and how to get relief) Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. Almost 80% of the entire global…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
Experts reveal, how long does marijuana actually stay in your system… Weed or marijuana is one of the most widely abused recreational drug. But did you know how long…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Is this is the real life? Is this just fantasy? – Decoding the myths of lucid dreaming Lucid dreaming or dreaming with a state of awareness has often intrigued the minds of experts worldwide. Do…
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…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military diet, a highly…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
Tea Tree Oil : The one stop cure for skin ailments and more… The popularity of tea tree oil, an essential oil, as the ultimate skin care pick is not unheard…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
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…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
V for Vagina: How well do you know this extraordinary part of the female anatomy? Vagina - a simple part of the human anatomy that has often created a feeling of either digust…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
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…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
boost brain health
The ultimate tips on how to boost your brain health Would you like to be smarter? Want a sharp memory but bored of doing sudoku? Try salsa or…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
Vitamin C: The instant health benefits of adding the citrusy goodness to your diet Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that cannot be synthesized in your body and has to be obtained…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
Legumes: Little pods of infinite nutrition you should consume daily The fruits and seeds of Fabaceae type of plants are called legumes.The most commonly used legumes are chickpeas,…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
DASH Diet: What to eat in a “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”? If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), dash towards a DASH…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Colloidal silver benefits
Colloidal silver: An essential dietary supplement or yet another pharmaceutical hoax? Colloidal silver is hailed as an effective home remedy for infections. Many believe it can treat HIV and…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…