Causes of an Abscess and Abscess Removal

Abscess removal can be a painful process, but not nearly as painful as it would be to let the problem go on untreated. An abscess of the skin is technically a collection of puss that is created as a means for the body to seal off an impending infection so that it doesn’t spread to the rest of the body. An abscess may also develop in the surrounding area of an object that has been lodged in the skin, such as a splinter or a bullet. Abscesses may also form in areas that sustain frequent punctures due to needles. The cavity formed by an infection or an imbedded object is flooded with puss as the area becomes infected.

Symptoms of an abscess are quite easy to point out if you know what you’re looking for. The immediate area will typically be raised like a pimple or boil. The skin surrounding this bump is often swollen, red, and painful. One might notice that the skin is quite warmer than the rest of the body, which is a sure indication that the body is attempting to fight off infection. If left too long, the bump can turn from a white to a green or blackened color. If possible, an abscess should never be left to ascend to this stage of infection and should be treated as soon as possible. These symptoms are of a skin abscess and do not apply to abscesses of the brain, lungs, tonsils, or other internal areas.

You may have noticed that an abscess shares quite a lot of similarities to a boil. The main difference is that a boil develops when a hair follicle becomes inflamed. The tissues beneath the surface of the skin begin to die off and the area surrounding the hair follicle fills with puss. A notable difference between a boil and your everyday skin abscess is that a boil has a hard inner core whereas an abscess is liquid-filled. Boils often do not require removal by a doctor unless they become severe or are in a sensitive area. Unfortunately, boils like to affect the skin of the armpits and groin, both of which are highly sensitive areas!

Any time there is an item imbedded too deeply into the skin to remove with tweezers, one should consider having it removed by a doctor before an abscess has time to develop. Small abscesses (in which there is no foreign object in the skin) may drain on their own with the aid of warm water soaks. If the abscess fails to drain or is quite large, the doctor will perform a procedure known as “incision and drainage”. The severity of the abscess as well as its location has a large affect on where the procedure is performed (clinic or hospital) and what type of anesthesia will be used. In a typical case, a local anesthetic will be administered and allowed to take effect. During abscess removal, the doctor will make a wide incision in the bulbous area of the abscess, exposing the puss-filled cavity. The puss and blood will be allowed to drain out. The doctor may or may not swab the inside of the cavity for testing purposes. Once the cavity has been thoroughly inspected, the doctor will rinse it with saline solution and fill it with what is known as a packing strip. The area will then be dressed with gauze and tape.

Depending on the cause behind the abscess, the doctor may choose to prescribe an antibiotic to the patient. You may be wondering why antibiotics can’t be prescribed without the need for surgery. Unfortunately, antibiotics alone are rarely effective as a form of abscess removal. An incision and drain procedure will need to be performed to remove the puss and allow the abscess area to begin the healing process while a follow-up treatment of antibiotics will help the body battle the infection that caused the abscess in the first place.


 

 

 


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