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Definition

An abscess is a tender mass, also called a boil which can appear anywhere on the body and is usually full of pus. The most common areas where abscess can develop are the armpits, around the anus and vagina, the base of the spine, around a tooth and the groin area. It is painful and should be treated by a doctor.

Causes of Abscess

Abscesses are caused by obstruction of sweat glands, swelling of hair follicles, or minor breaks and deflate the skin. Germs get beneath the skin or into these glands, which causes a stirring response as the body's resistance try to exterminate these germs.

The middle of the abscess dissolves and contains dead cells, bacteria, and other debris. This region begins to grow, creating pressure beneath the skin and further swelling of the adjoining tissues. Pressure and swelling cause the pain.

Other factors that may result in developing the abscess are:

  • Exposure to unhygienic environments
  • Contact with people having skin infections
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor circulation

Abscesses can be severe if the person has one of the following issues:

  • AIDS
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Severe burns
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse

Symptoms of Abscess

The symptoms of abscess include:

  • A painful tender red mass
  • Pus in the middle
  • Head or a point appears as the condition progresses and then ruptures

The condition may even aggravate, if no proper care is taken. Also, it may spread the infection into the tissues or even into the bloodstream. If the infection spreads deeper into the tissue, the person may also develop a fever or feel sick.

Diagnosis of Abscess

The doctor will first take the medical history and may ask the person about how long the abscess has been there, any previous injury to the area affected by an abscess, medication, any allergies, etc.

The doctor will then examine the area affected with an abscess. If it is near the anus, he will perform a rectal exam. If it is growing under the arm or leg, then he will feel the lymph gland under the arm or groin area.

Treatments of Abscess

Abscess should be removed only by the doctor at a medical setting. The area around the abscess is numbed with an anesthesia, which makes the surgery less painful.

In case the abscess is large, then a sedative may also be given to the patient. The area will be covered with antiseptic solution and sterilized towels. The doctor will then cut open and drain out all the pus.

Once all the pus and debris are drained out, the doctor will insert a packing into the cavity to stop bleeding. A bandage will be placed over the packing and the doctor may advise some care to be taken at home.

If the pain still persists, the doctor may prescribe some painkillers that need to be taken for the next two days or, until the packing is removed.

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