Abscess Treatment

Skin conditions are a major cause of consultations in primary care with approximately 2.4 million consultations per year in England and Wales [1]. 10% of patients with a boil or abscess develop a repeat boil or abscess within 12 months [2].

Therefore, it’s imperative to have effective management strategies and treatment for skin conditions, particularly boils and abscesses, in primary care to reduce the number of repeat consultations and improve patient outcomes.

At My Concierge MD we provide emergency medicine and urgent care services 24/7. Our experienced doctors and staff are equipped to provide you with the best possible care, whether you need a quick diagnosis or immediate treatment. We offer many services found in the emergency department, including abscess drainage. We offer a wide range of services including walk-in service ( but recommend calling to schedule an appointment), scheduled appointments, and online booking.

What is an abscess?

A skin abscess is a blister filled with pus that resembles a pimple, however, it is bigger and situated deeper beneath the skin. The formation of this condition happens as a result of the body’s attempt to shield itself from an infection by constructing a wall around the infected area [3]. It can develop in almost any part of the body and is caused by bacteria, parasites, or fungi.

Abscesses can form due to a number of different causes, including bacterial infection, injury, or cancer. If left untreated, an abscess can spread and become life-threatening.

How is an abscess formed?

An abscess is a localized collection of pus that is surrounded by inflamed tissue. It is caused by a bacterial infection, usually from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). An abscess can form anywhere in the body, including in the mouth, throat, skin, lungs, or even internal organs.

In most cases, an abscess is caused by a break in the skin or mucous membrane that allows bacteria to enter and become trapped in the body. This can be due to trauma, infection, foreign objects, or even insect bites.

Once the bacteria have entered the body, it multiplies and releases toxins that cause inflammation and damage to surrounding soft tissues. As the body’s immune system responds to fight off the infection, white blood cells accumulate and form a pocket of pus. The pocket of pus is known as an abscess.

What does an abscess look like?

An abscess often appears as a red, swollen, and painful lump or bump on the skin. It may feel warm to the touch, and the surrounding skin may be red and tender. In some cases, the center of the abscess may have a white or yellowish appearance, which is caused by the accumulation of pus.

Skin abscesses can range in size from a small pimple-like bump to a large, painful mass that requires medical attention. If you suspect that you have an abscess, it is important to seek a medical evaluation to determine the best course of treatment. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide effective treatment for you.

What causes an abscess?

An abscess is caused by an infection, typically caused by bacteria. It can occur when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or sore, and multiply, causing an immune response. This results in the formation of a pocket of pus, which is surrounded by a wall of tissue to contain the infection.

Other factors that can increase the risk of developing an abscess include a weakened immune system, poor hygiene, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes. Abscesses can also develop in response to a foreign body, such as a splinter, or as a complication of a skin condition, such as an infected cyst.

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a common cause of abscesses . This is a condition that results in the inflammation of the sweat glands. The most common symptom of this condition is the development of small, pus-filled bumps on the skin. These bumps can eventually turn into larger abscesses.

Is an abscess a serious skin infection?

An abscess can be a serious skin infection, especially if left untreated. Although some abscesses can be small and relatively minor, others can be large, painful, and spread to other parts of the body.

Is an abscess a serious skin infection

If an abscess ruptures, it can cause the infection to spread and increase the risk of developing other complications, such as cellulitis (a skin infection) or sepsis (a life-threatening condition caused by a widespread infection).

Prompt treatment of an abscess, typically with antibiotics and drainage, is important to prevent these potential complications and reduce the risk of the abscess recurring. If you have symptoms of an abscess, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the best course of treatment.

Types of abscess

1. Cutaneous abscess: Cutaneous abscesses are localized collections of pus that occur within the dermis and subcutaneous space [4].

2. Perirectal or anorectal abscess: Occurs in the tissue near the anus.

3. Bartholin‘s abscess: Occurs in the Bartholin‘s glands, which are located near the vaginal opening.

4. Periodontal or Dental abscess: Occurs in the mouth, typically as a result of a tooth infection.

5. Liver abscess: Occurs in the liver and can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or parasites.

6. Ovarian abscess: Occurs in the ovaries and can be caused by a bacterial infection.

7. Psoas abscess: Occurs in the psoas muscle and can be caused by a bacterial infection.

8. Subcutaneous abscess: Occurs under the skin and can be caused by a bacterial infection.

9. Abdominal abscess: Occurs anywhere within the abdominal cavity, including the space around the abdominal organs such as the liver, spleen, and intestines.

10. Brain abscess: Occurs when a pocket of infected material forms within the brain tissue.

11. Pilonidal abscess: Occurs in the area of the tailbone and the top of the buttocks.

12. Peritonsillar abscess: Occurs when a pus-filled abscess forms in the peritonsillar space located below the tonsils.

These are just a few examples of the different types of abscesses that can occur. The type of abscess, as well as its location and underlying cause, will determine the appropriate treatment.

Does an abscess go away on its own?

An abscess may not go away on its own and will often require medical treatment to resolve. Without treatment, an abscess can continue to grow and cause increased pain and swelling. If left untreated, an abscess can also spread to other parts of the body and cause more serious complications, such as a widespread infection or sepsis.

Symptoms of an abscess

Skin abscess

The symptoms of a skin abscess include:

  • A noticeable lump or bump under the skin
  • Pain and discomfort in the affected area
  • Warmth and inflammation of the skin in the affected area
  • The accumulation of white or yellow pus visible under the skin
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Shivering or chills
  • Boils or carbuncles

Internal abscess

The common risk factors of an internal abscess include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the affected area
  • Fever
  • Increased sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss

What is the difference between a boil and an abscess?

A boil, also known as a furuncle, is a type of skin infection that occurs when a hair follicle becomes infected with bacteria. Boils typically start as a red, painful bump and gradually fill with pus, eventually bursting and draining. Boils are usually limited to a single area of the skin and are not usually very deep.

An abscess, on the other hand, is a deeper infection that occurs when pus collects in a cavity in the body. Abscesses can occur in various parts of the body, including the skin, but they can also occur internally, such as in the liver, ovaries, or psoas muscle. Abscesses are often more serious than boils and can cause more severe symptoms, such as high fever and widespread inflammation.

In summary, the main difference between a boil and an abscess is the depth and severity of the infection. While a boil is a shallow skin infection, an abscess can be a deeper and more serious infection that requires prompt medical treatment.

Treatment for an abscess

Antibiotics: To help clear the infection and prevent it from spreading, antibiotics may be prescribed. However, For individuals with simple skin abscesses, moderate to high-quality evidence indicates that TMP-SMX or clindamycin may provide a small advantage for certain outcomes, but they also carry similar risks of adverse effects. Clindamycin has a higher risk of diarrhea compared to TMP-SMX. Cephalosporins are not likely to be effective [5].

Warm compresses: These can be a helpful treatment for skin abscesses. The heat from the compress can help to increase blood flow to the affected area, reduce pain and swelling, and promote drainage of the pus from the abscess.

Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Abscess drainage: The abscess may be drained through a small incision made in the skin or with the use of a needle or catheter inserted through the skin. In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure using an endoscope may be used to drain the abscess.

In immunocompetent patients with no confounding risk factors, incision and drainage under local anesthetic are generally sufficient for abscess management [6].

Wound care: After the abscess has been drained, it is important to keep the area clean and dry and to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider for wound care. This may include applying a sterile dressing, washing the area with soap and water, and avoiding activities that may irritate the wound.

Surgery: If the abscess is large or if it is located in a difficult-to-reach area, surgery may be necessary to remove the abscess and any affected tissue.

Imaging studies: Imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, may be used to help identify the location and size of the abscess and to determine the best course of treatment.

Supportive care: To manage symptoms, supportive care such as pain relief, hydration, and rest may be recommended. In some cases, a follow-up appointment may be necessary to monitor healing and assess the need for additional treatment.

How long does it take for an abscess to heal?

The length of time it takes for an abscess to heal can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the abscess, the location of the abscess, the underlying cause of the abscess, and the overall health of the patient.

In general, after an abscess has been drained, the healing process typically takes about 7 to 10 days. During this time, the area will gradually begin to heal, and the pain and swelling should start to subside.

However, in some cases, an abscess may take longer to heal, especially if the abscess is large or if there is a risk of the infection spreading.

Abscess treatment near me

MyconciergeMD offers the best abscess treatment near me in Beverly Hills but can also come to your home or office throughout the Los Angeles area. We serve patients near Beverly Hills, Bel Air, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Downtown Los Angeles, Encino, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Calabasas, Burbank, Glendale, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills, Northridge, North Hollywood, Topanga, Canoga Park, Reseda, Valley Glen, Chatsworth, West Hills, Winnetka, Universal City, Silverlake, Echo Park, and many more.

References:

1. Fleming D, McCormick A, Charlton J. Morbidity statistics from general practice Fourth national study 1991–2. London: HMSO; 1995. [Google Scholar]

2. Shallcross, L. J., Hayward, A. C., Johnson, A. M., & Petersen, I. (2015). Incidence and recurrence of boils and abscesses within the first year: A cohort study in UK primary care. The British Journal of General Practice, 65(639), e668. [https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp15X686929]

3. Baiu I, Melendez E. Skin Abscess. JAMA. 2018;319(13):1405. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1355

4. Pastorino A, Tavarez MM. Incision and Drainage. [Updated 2022 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556072/

5. Wang W, Chen W, Liu Y, et al. Antibiotics for uncomplicated skin abscesses: systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2018;8(2):e020991. Published 2018 Feb 6. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020991

6. Korownyk, C., & Allan, G. M. (2007). Evidence-based approach to abscess management. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 53(10), 1680–1684.

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