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Abcess - How Can It Be Treated?

Written and reviewed by
MS - General Surgery, MBBS
General Surgeon, Varanasi  •  2020 years experience
Abcess - How Can It Be Treated?

What is an abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus which built ups within the tissue of the body. It is usually tender and warm to touch.

What are the statistics of it?

An abscess is the most common condition and the most common presenting symptom of various diseases. The rate is approximately 65% of the population who are using intravenous drugs.

What are the common causes of it?

It mostly occurs in the patients with weak immunity. Following are the most common conditions which can cause abscess:

  1. Chronic use of steroid - it suppresses natural immune mechanism along with the disease
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. In diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS, peripheral vascular disorders, crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis as they cause weak immunity
  4. In severe burns
  5. In severe trauma
  6. In alcoholics, and IV drug abusers
  7. Due to poor hygiene, and poor circulation
  8. Due to bacterial infections like Staphylococcus aureus infection
  9. Due to parasites, such as dracunculiasis and myiasis

What are the symptoms of it?

The most common symptoms and signs of the superficial abscesses are redness, heat, swelling, pain, loss of function, and fever with, or without chills. An internal abscess shows symptoms, such as pain in the affected area, fever, and malaise.

Where can it develop?

It can occur in any tissue, but most frequently it occurs on the skin surface (superficial abscess). It can also occur in the lungs, brain, teeth, kidneys, tonsils, liver, perineum, hair follicle, and bones.

Why does it develop?

It is a defensive mechanism of the tissue. The bacteria which enters the body destroys the body cells and results in the release of cytokines. This cytokine causes white blood cells to proliferate near that area by increasing regional blood flow. All these materials with killed bacteria and kill white blood cells collect in the cavity and localize the infection by forming a capsule around it.  This capsule prevents further spread of infection to the adjacent organs.

How to diagnose it?

A superficial abscess does not require any investigation as compared to deep abscess. Investigations, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging can be used to diagnose the deep abscesses.  

What is the treatment available for it?

Following are the treatments which are given most commonly to treat the abscess:

  1. Incision and drainage include inspection of an abscess to identify the presence of foreign objects, and removal of it by cutting it. The pus which gets collected is also drained by this technique.
  2. Antibiotics are used where the abscess is small, and they are also administered after doing incision, and drainage.
  3. Dressing with antiseptics is also done after the incision and drainage.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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