What is an Abscess?

An abscess is a tender mass that is often surrounded by an area of pink or red, and is filled with pus. Abscesses can be painful and warm to the touch, and can appear on any area of the body.  These masses most commonly appear in the armpits, at the base of the spine, in the groin, around the anus or vagina, and even around a tooth (known as a dental abscess). Inflammation around a hair follicle can also cause an abscess called a boil.

What Causes an Abscess?

Abscesses form when oil glands or sweat glands are obstructed, hair follicles are inflamed, or bacteria enters these glands through a minor break in the skin. The body will then create an inflammatory response in order to combat these germs. The middle of the abscess will liquefy, and begin to grow, which can cause further inflammation and tension under the skin, causing pain.

Individuals with certain conditions are more prone to get abscesses than others. These include those with a weakened immune system, or those who have poor hygiene or certain skin infections.

Treatment for an Abscess

Abscesses cannot be treated with antibiotics alone. An abscess must be opened and drained in order for full healing to occur. While drainage may occur on its own, most of the time a doctor must open the abscess during an incision and drainage procedure.

In the occurrence of a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, a red streak leading from the abscess to the lymph nodes, chest, or legs, or any facial abscess that is larger than 1 cm across, individuals should visit a hospital’s emergency room as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing an abscess, a visit to Ultra Med Urgent Care can bring quick relief from symptoms. Our staff will work with you to create a treatment plan that will have you back to your everyday routine in no time!