Abscess generally referred as boil, cyst, blister, pustule, eruption or carbuncle is a cluster of pus that appears below or above the skin surface. They appear as tender mass and are quite common under the armpit, near the genitals (Bartholin gland abscess), around the groin or tooth area (dental abscess), under the spine (pilonidal abscess) and around the hair follicle (furuncle). The area surrounding the pus is mostly pink to reddish in colour and it is extremely painful on touch.
Abscesses often happens when there is a cut or tear on the skin, inflammation of the hair follicles like in the case of folliculitis or blockage in the sweat glands which gives a pathway for the germs or bacteria to enter into the body causing a resistance response by the body to get rid of the unwanted microbes. The centre portion of the pustule dissolves and contains bacteria, dead cells and debris. This area slowly begins to grow under the skin causing pain, inflammation and tension in the surrounding tissues. These boils or pustules are usually caused due to the invasion of many bacteria’s but most commonly the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or parasites like dracunculiasis or myiasis.
- Painful red mass on the skin with pus in the middle
- Fever and chills
- Growing abscess may acquire a head and eventually rupture
- Lesions on the skin
Diagnosis and Treatment
An abscess can be easily diagnosed by your doctor or healthcare provider by acknowledging your medical history, recall of any injury or by physically feeling the affected area if it is on the hand or foot. In case of boils in the anus, the doctor may perform a rectal examination for a better understanding. If the abscess is too large, the doctor may take ultrasound images or take a culture of the pus fluid to check the presence of bacteria.
An abscess should only be removed surgically by a doctor. Standard treatment of an uncomplicated abscess can be done by incision and drainage.
The surrounding area of the pustule is desensitized using anaesthetic and a small incision is made into the abscess.
Then, all the fluid, debris and pus is drained out and a sterilized packing is inserted into the pocket to stop the bleeding.
It is further closed by a bandage and certain care is advised to be taken at home.