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Home :: Skin Disorders

Skin Abscess - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 

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Skin abscesses may follow a bacterial infection, commonly an infection with staphylococcus. The infection may spread locally or systemically. The spread of infection through the bloodstream may cause severe complications. Abscesses in the skin are readily visible and are red, raised, and painful. It is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent the spread of infectious materials to other parts of the body. Skin abscesses are fairly common. Abscesses inside the body occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body is able to "wall off" the infection to keep it from spreading. Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. They affect people of all ages. Abscesses can form in almost every part of the body. 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. The abscess can obstruct and impinge on the functioning of deeper tissues.

Abscesses may occur most frequently on skin surface, in the lungs, brain, kidneys and tonsils. The abscess can prevent deeper tissues from functioning properly. The infection may spread locally or throughout the body. The spread of infection through the bloodstream may cause severe complications. Major complications are spreading of the abscess material to adjacent or remote tissues and extensive regional tissue death. The cardinal symptoms and signs of any kind of inflammatory process are redness, heat, swelling and pain. The treatment of first choice is the surgical drainage of the abscess. It is important to note that antibiotic therapy alone without surgical drainage of the abscess is seldom effective. However, in critical areas where surgery presents a high risk, surgery may be delayed or used as a last resort. Usually those with an abscess on the skin have other treatment options combined with taking oral antibiotics. Some treatments can help reduce time an abscess remains on the skin and can as well help to reduce pain.

Causes of Skin abscess

Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. Skin abscess are caused when an infection causes pus and infected material to collect in the skin. People who have poor hygiene or chronic skin diseases or whose nasal passages contain Staphylococcus are more likely to have episodes of these skin infections. They can develop after a minor wound, injury, or as a complication of folliculitis or boils. The abscess can obstruct and impinge on the functioning of deeper tissues. The infection may spread locally or systemically. The spread of infection through the bloodstream may cause severe complications.

Common causes and risk factors of Skin abscess:

  • Chickenpox infection.
  • An infection with bacteria.
  • Diabetes.
  • Immunodeficiency disorder.
  • Chronic use of steroids.

Signs and Symptoms of Skin abscess

Abscesses affect people of all ages. The cardinal symptoms and signs of skin abscess are redness, heat, swelling and pain. Abscesses may occur in any kind of solid tissue but most frequently on skin surface, in the lungs, brain, kidneys and tonsils. Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. The infection may spread locally or systemically. The spread of infection through the bloodstream may cause severe complications.

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Weight loss.
  • Fever & chills.
  • Tender and warm affected area
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Skin lesion.

Treatment for Skin abscess

Most abscesses need to be treated with antibiotics to completely resolve. Antibiotics are given to control the infection. Sometimes, tap water heat may be set too high, and it may not feel to the hands as though the water is too hot. If one is treating the abscess with a compress and it bursts, be certain to wash the hands carefully. As well, wash the area around the skin to clean up any pus. When the abscess bursts it can spread bacteria to other skin cells.

Treatment may include:

  • The treatment of first choice is the surgical drainage of the abscess.
  • Warm compresses and elevation of the limb may be beneficial for skin abscess.
  • 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.
  • Antibiotics such as dicloxacillin are given to control the infection.
  • Use bentonite clay on the affected area in case of septic abscesses.