Understanding Causes and Treatments for a Leg Abscess

A leg abscess is unsightly, but also over time, very painful.  In fact, if an abscess anywhere on the body is not treated properly, infection could set in, which would then create another problem.  A good rule of thumb anytime an abscess develops is that if at any time it becomes one-half inch in diameter or more, or it becomes red and starts to ooze, you need to seek medical treatment right away.

Other instances when a leg abscess would warrant immediate treatment includes running a high-grade fever of 101 degrees and higher, noticing a red streak or line that extends from the sore, or if you were to start vomiting.  Additionally, if you have certain illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, sickle cell disease, AIDS, or peripheral vascular disease, you need to see a doctor.  Then, if you have been on any type of dialysis, chemotherapy, steroid therapy, or you are an IV drug user, this is not something to mess with.

An abscess, which can develop on various parts of the body to include the leg is a tender mass.  Typically, this type of sore is encircled by a deep pink to red area and then the center of the sore is filled with pus and infection.  In most cases, a leg abscess would be warm to the touch and sore, even painful.  Abscesses can actually be caused by a number of things such as an irritated and inflamed hair follicle.  However, an abscess can also result from a high oil production and some type of tear or puncture of the skin.

Once the skin is split, it becomes exposed to dirt and debris.  Soon, germs develop underneath the skin, which sets off the process of inflammation.  If the wound were not cleaned or when the germs rage out of control, the area becomes infected, leading to the leg abscess.  Sometimes, an abscess will begin to ooze pus but in most cases, it remains sealed, which allows the sore to grow to the point of needing to have it lanced by a doctor.  The problem in treating abscesses is that standard antibiotics alone do not work.  Again, until the sore is opened and the pus and infection drained, it will never heal.

While a leg abscess is certainly not anything pleasant, it is important to understand what it is.  What happens is that the center of the sore actually liquefies.  Inside the center are bacteria, dead cells, and other types of debris.  Within a short amount of time, the area of the abscess grows and the larger it becomes, the more pressure it places on the underside of the skin.  With no place to go and no way to drain, the abscess and surrounding tissue becomes inflamed and infected.


Interestingly, studies have been done that show a leg abscess or this type of sore anywhere on the body is more likely in people with diminished immune systems.  With the body not capable of fighting off bacteria and germs that cause a sore such as this, infection is imminent.  Once the abscess has developed, you would have pain at the site.  This might first be noticed by accidentally bumping the leg.  From there, you might start to run a fever and feel under the weather in general.

The problem is that not only would the leg abscess lead to infection but also, if untreated, the infection would spread deeper into the tissue and over time, it can enter the bloodstream.  At that point, you would be in serious trouble.  This is why you want to watch an abscess and clean the area immediately.  Then, if it becomes hot, red, and large, seek medical attention immediately.


 

 

 


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