Abscess- Dentistry, Dermatology, Ear Nose And Throat (ENT), Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Neurology

An abscess is a painful pus-filled mass. A bacterial infection typically brings it on, and it can develop anywhere in the body.

There are several types of abscesses. They might appear around your organs, on your skin, or in your mouth. Skin abscesses might appear puffy and red. Surgical drainage is frequently used as part of the treatment. Following are some of the different types of abscess that we will be discussing:

  • Skin abscess
  • Gastrointestinal abscess (abdominal)
  • Brain and Spinal Cord abscess
  • Oral abscess (mouth and throat)

Types of Abscesses

Abscesses can develop in your mouth, on your skin, or around an internal organ.

Skin abscess

The medical term for a skin abscess is a cutaneous abscess. They develop under the skin, are relatively common, and are typically easy to treat.

Types of skin abscesses include:

  • Boils or painful nodules or bumps.
  • Furuncles, which are typically caused by infected hair follicles, are packed with pus that can spread to nearby tissues.
  • Carbuncles are clusters of furuncles.

Internal abscess

Although less common than external ones, internal abscesses can form on your brain, spinal cord, and other organs. In addition, internal abscesses are typically more challenging to identify and manage.

Abdominal Abscess: An abdominal abscess is a collection of pus inside your abdomen. It might be inside, next to, or outside your pancreas, liver, kidneys, or other organs.

Spinal Cord Abscess: An accumulation of pus in and around the spinal cord is known as a spinal cord abscess, typically caused by an infection on your spine.

Brain Abscess: A pus buildup inside the brain is a rare occurrence. However, if bacteria from an infection elsewhere in your body, in your blood, or from a wound penetrate your brain, an abscess could develop there.

Oral Abscess (Abscesses in the mouth)

Teeth, gums, and the throat can all be affected by oral abscesses. An abscess that develops around a tooth is called a tooth abscess (dental abscess). Different types of tooth abscesses include:

Gum abscess: A gingival abscess is sometimes called a gum abscess. It develops in the gum tissue and usually does not affect your teeth.

Periodontal abscess: The tissues and bones that support your teeth can be affected by a periodontal abscess. Usually, gum disease or periodontitis leads to this condition.

Periapical abscess: An infection that develops near the end of your tooth's root is known as a periapical abscess. Cavities or tooth trauma may lead to this kind of abscess.

There may be other abscesses in your mouth, such as:

Tonsil abscess: A pus-filled pocket behind one of your tonsils is a tonsillar abscess. Tonsillar abscesses are more common in adolescents and young adults.

Retropharyngeal abscess: Retropharyngeal abscess develops in the rear of the throat when the lymph nodes in the back of your throat get infected.

Peritonsillar abscess: Peritonsillar abscess (also termed Quinsy) develops when pus accumulates between your tonsils and the throat wall.

Causes Of An Abscess

A cut in the skin that allows common skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes to enter the wound is usually the cause of a skin abscess. This leads to inflammation resulting in a skin abscess.

You have a higher chance of contracting this bacterial illness if you:

  • Have close contact with people infected with Staphylococcal infection, which is why the condition is more prevalent in hospitals
  • Have diabetes or metabolic syndrome
  • Are dealing with a chronic skin condition, such as eczema or acne
  • Have a weak immune system
  • Smoke

Less common causes of cutaneous abscesses can be:

  • Fungal
  • Viral
  • Bacterial
  • Parasitic

What Are The Symptoms Of An Abscess?

You may easily see an abscess under your skin. It could look swollen, elevated, and red. The skin above the center of the abscess may be thin. It may appear yellow or white due to the presence of pus beneath the skin's surface. When touched, the abscess could feel warm and sensitive. A skin abscess can also cause fever, pain, and chills.

An abscess in your mouth could bring on an intense toothache. A gum abscess appears as gum swelling. Your cheeks, jaw, or mouth floor may occasionally expand as well. Fever, sensitive teeth, and trouble swallowing or opening your mouth are all symptoms of oral abscesses.

The symptoms are less apparent for deeper skin abscesses or those inside your body. You might experience pain and tenderness in the affected body part, fatigue, chills, excessive sweating, fever, weight loss, and a decrease in appetite.

Diagnosing an abscess

During a physical exam, your healthcare professional can identify a skin abscess. They will evaluate your abscess and ask you questions. They could take a sample of the pus from the abscess and send it for testing.

Using the sample, your healthcare professional can determine the species of bacteria producing the abscess. This will help them to select the most appropriate line of treatment.

Since you cannot detect deeper abscesses, including internal abscesses, they are more challenging to diagnose. Therefore, imaging tests may be needed. These tests could consist of the following:

Ultrasonography (USG): An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce a live view of your interior organs. It is a safe medical imaging procedure.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: Using a strong magnet, radio waves, and a computer, this creates in-depth pictures of your inside organs and body structure.

CT (computed tomography) scan: A CT scan produces images of a cross-section of your body using X-rays and computers.

Treatment of abscess

A cutaneous abscess is typically manageable at home. The abscess may shrink and drain when heat is applied to it.

The best way to apply heat to the abscess is to use a warm compress. To prepare a warm compress, run a face towel under warm water, roll it up, and apply it over the abscess several times daily for about 10 minutes at a time.

If the abscess does not get better on its own, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, dicloxacillin, or cephalexin. A person with comorbid illnesses or a severe infection may occasionally need to be hospitalized and receive antibiotics intravenously.

Treatment for an abscess may require surgical drainage and debridement (removal of dead tissues).

Your healthcare professional will first numb the region around the abscess using a local anesthetic. You will be awake during the procedure, but the affected area will be numb.

A tiny cut or incision will be made in the abscess by your healthcare provider. Then, they will let the abscess drain and remove any pus, dead tissue, and debris. Finally, the abscess is kept open to allow any residual pus to drain.

For larger abscesses, they could wrap the abscess opening using gauze. Afterward, they will cover it with a fresh, dry bandage. The wound will heal naturally. There can be a scar where the incision was made. You can detect if an abscess is healing by its scar.

Your dentist will conduct surgical drainage to remove an abscess on your gums. Depending on the severity, they might need to remove any impacted teeth or perform a root canal. Additionally, they might recommend antibiotics.

Your healthcare provider might use needle aspiration to treat internal abscesses. Depending on where the abscess is located, you will be administered either local or general anesthesia. Then, a CT or ultrasound scan will be used to direct a needle into position. Using the needle, they will drain the abscess.

They might make a tiny incision on your skin and insert a drainage catheter, a thin plastic tube. The abscess can drain into a bag with the help of the catheter. You might need to retain the bag for a week or longer.

When To See A Doctor?

It is crucial to see a doctor as soon as you can if:

  • You were recently hospitalized or have a compromised immune system
  • The abscess is hurting or throbbing more
  • You either recently underwent chemotherapy or are currently undergoing it
  • You have undergone organ transplantation
  • You have a fever and a huge abscess that has not completely healed in the past two weeks
  • Your infection seems to be worsening as the abscess grows
  • Your skin is puffy or very red around the abscess

Even if you are unsure whether you have an abscess, discussing it with your doctor is crucial because an untreated abscess can cause significant consequences and even pose a serious threat to your life.


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