An abscess is a painful localized collection of pus that has built up within the tissue, organs, or confined spaces of the body usually caused by a bacterial infection.

Abscesses are often easy to feel by touching as it is a tender mass generally surrounded by a colour area from pink to deep red. The middle of an abscess is full of pus which is a thick fluid that usually contains white blood cells, dead tissue and germs (bacteria).

There are mainly two types of abscess -

  • Skin abscesses – which develop under the skin.
  • Internal abscesses – which develop inside the body, in an organ or in the spaces between organs.

Causes –

The usual cause of an abscess is bacterial infection. However, they can also develop due to an infection by viruses, fungi or parasites. It is also observed that certain bacteria are more likely to be pus-forming as they make chemicals (toxins) that can damage the body's tissues.

These includes the following -

  • Taphylococcus Aureus
  • Streptococcus Pyogenes

How the abscess formed in body –

When the foreign organisms like bacteria enter the body, the immune system sends white blood cells to fight the infection. This causes swelling or inflammation at the site of infection and the death of nearby tissue which creates a hole called a cavity, which fills with pus to form an abscess. The abscess may get larger and more painful as the infection continues and more pus is produced.

Symptoms –

The main signs and symptoms of an Abscess are -

  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Loss of function
  • Fever (high temperature)
  • Chills

It is also observed that if the infection spreads into deeper tissue, you may develop a fever and begin to feel ill.

Treatments –

The treatment of abscess mainly depends on the type of abscess and how large it is. The medical treatment options include -

  • Antibiotics
  • A drainage procedure
  • Surgery

Self Care Treatment at Home -

  • If the abscess is small, applying warm compresses to the area for about 30 minutes 4 times daily can help.
  • Do not attempt to drain the abscess by pressing on it. This can push the infected material into the deeper tissues.
  • Do not stick a needle or other sharp instrument into the abscess centre because you may injure an underlying blood vessel or cause the infection to spread.