What is an Abscess?

An abscess is a tender mass that is usually surrounded by an area of pink or red skin. Most abscesses are caused by infections, and are filled with pus and bacteria. Abscesses can show up on any area of the body, but are commonly found in the armpits, around the anus and vagina, at the base of the spine, around a tooth, and in the groin.

Abscesses can be caused by small tears in the skin or inflammation, which can allow bacteria to enter the skin. An abscess can form as your body’s way to kill these germs with your inflammatory response. The center of the abscess liquefies and holds dead cells and bacteria, and begins to grow, creating pressure and inflammation.

While anyone can develop an abscess, individuals with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk. Those who are exposed to dirty environments, have certain skin infections, or have poor circulation may also be at higher risk.

Treatment for an Abscess

Antibiotics alone cannot be used to cure an abscess. An abscess must be opened and drained in order for healing to begin. While draining may occur on its own, an abscess usually needs to be opened by a medical professional during a procedure called incision and drainage (I&D). Patients are usually sent home with oral antibiotics to ensure quick healing.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with an abscess, seek medical care as soon as possible:

  • Fever of 102°F or higher
  • A red streak leading away from the abscess, or with tender lymph nodes in an area between the abscess and your chest
  • A facial abscess that is larger than 1 cm

If you are experiencing an abscess, contact Springfield Urgent Care as soon as possible for quick, quality treatment.

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