What is an abscess?
- An abscess is a pocket of pus. One can get an abscess almost anywhere in the body. When an area becomes infected, the body's immune system tries to fight it.
- White blood cells go to the infected area, collect within the damaged tissue and cause inflammation.
- During this process, pus forms. Pus is the buildup of fluid, living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria or other foreign substances.
- Bacteria, viruses, parasites and swallowed objects can all lead to abscesses. Skin abscesses are easy to detect. They are red, raised and painful.
- Abscesses inside the body may not be obvious and can damage organs, including the brain, lungs and others.
What is the cause?
- Abscesses occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body's immune system tries to fight it. White blood cells move through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collect within the damaged tissue.
- During this process, pus forms. Pus is the buildup of fluid, living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue, and bacteria or other foreign substances.
- Abscesses can form in almost any part of the body. The skin, under the skin, and the teeth are the most common sites. Abscesses may be caused by bacteria, parasites, and foreign substances.
- Abscesses in the skin are easy to see. They are red, raised, and painful. Abscesses in other areas of the body may not be obvious, but they may cause significant organ damage.
Some specific types of abscesses are
- Abdominal abscess
- Amebic liver abscess
- Anorectal abscess
- Bartholin's abscess
- Brain abscess
- Epidural abscess
- Peritonsillar abscess
- Pyogenic liver abscess
- Skin abscess
- Spinal cord abscess
- Subcutaneous abscess
- Tooth abscess
How is it diagnosed?
- Often, a sample of fluid will be taken from the abscess and tested to see what organism is causing the problem.
- Also which antibiotic is best for killing the organism (This test is called pus culture and sensitivity test).
What is the prevention?
- Prevention of abscesses depends on where they develop. For example, good hygiene can help prevent skin abscesses.
- Dental hygiene and routine care will prevent tooth abscesses.
- Also good nutrition and control of chronic conditions like anemia, diabetes and malnutrition.
What is the treatment?Treatment varies, but often surgery, antibiotics, or both are needed.