An abscess will appear as a swollen area that is pink or red and warm to the touch. In most cases there is a collection of pus that develops causing the swelling. The most common places people find them is in the armpits, groin/rectal area or the vaginal area. In most cases a doctor will need to be drained to cure the abscess, along with antibiotics. If you suspect you have an abscess, your best bet would be to schedule an appointment with you doctor.
What causes an abscess?
What causes an abscess to form normally is an infectious reaction to a foreign object, such as a splinter, nail or needle. This causes bacteria to enter the body and makes the area swell. Another reason is because of sweat glands getting obstructed by oil. When this happens the body’s immune system is triggered and the infected area forms a cavity around the infection, then pus fills the area creating tension on the skin around it.
What are the symptoms of an abscess?
This all depends on the area of the abscess, but the most common symptoms people have are a painful mass that is red, warm and very tender. Also many people notice the abscess comes to a head, this usually means it may rupture. If you allow the infection to sit, then it will get worse and has the potential to spead into deeper tissue and eventually the bloodstream. If this happens you will experience fever, nausea, vomiting, increasing pain and swelling and redness.
When Should I see a doctor?
It is very important to see a doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
The abscess is larger than one-half inch across, or it continues to get bigger.
It is located near the rectal/ groin area
And if you have any facial abscess
You have a fever of 100.4 or higher.
You have red streaks across the skin, starting from the abscess.
What tests will the doctor run?
Depending on where it’s located the doctor may want to take blood tests and perform ultrasounds on the location of the abscess. If it is around the anus or vagina, they will perform a rectal/vaginal exam.
What medical treatment will my doctor use?
In almost all cases of abscess they open and drain it. This is done by first numbing the area with local anesthetics to make it as least uncomfortable as possible. Then the infected area will be covered with an antiseptic solution and the doctor will then cut open the abscess to drain all the pus out. Immediately following draining the doctor will pack the opening with gauze and a bandage will be placed to cover the packing.
Is there any treatment I can do at home?
In the case that the abscess is small, instead of going to the doctor you can cover the infected area with a warm compress for thirty minutes a day, four to five times a day.
It is very important you do not try to drain the abscess on your own, it will only push the infection farther into the area, and may cause it too spread farther.
Will I need to follow-up with my doctor?
If the pocket is deeper, the doctor may ask you to come back to change out the packing once or twice, and to also check that it is healing properly. After the packing has been removed for the last time, remember to flush the infected area three times a day to prevent the infection from coming back. Along with this you will also need to take the antibiotics exactly as the doctor prescribed.
Is there anyway to prevent an abscess from forming?
Just maintaining good personal hygiene by washing with soap and water on a regular basis will help prevent any infection. Try to avoid cutting yourself when shaving.
And if you do notice any cuts or wounds take care to keep them clean.
In most cases after the abscess has been treated, it should heal quickly. So it is very important to take your medicine and follow all instructions given to you exactly. Some people are more prone to getting an abscess, and it becomes something you learn to live with. Do not stall on going to the doctor; a simple thing can turn into a big problem.