An abscess forms when pus accumulates in a specific area of the body. This is usually the result of a bacterial infection. Also known as Boils or Cysts, Abscesses can develop in many areas of the body but are often found on the skin or in the mouth.
Abscesses can cause pain, swelling and inflamed or red skin. Although most abscesses do not result in complications, if they are left untreated they could result in an emergency situation. Visit the closest emergency room if you have pain that you cannot control at home.
Several conditions can lead to the formation of abscesses but they are usually caused by an inflammatory reaction to a bacteria or parasite, or to the presence of foreign substance in the body such as a splinter or a needle. Below are some of the most common causes of abscesses.
Abscess Cause #1: Bacterial Infections
Acute Tissue Infections – Various kinds of bacteria can cause abscesses. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the most common of these bacteria types.
Poor Dental Hygiene – Lack of brushing and flossing or frequent consumption of sugary foods and beverages can lead to the development of bacteria around the teeth and gums. This can create an environment that increases the risk of abscesses.
Abscess Cause #2: Pre-existing Conditions
Skin Conditions – Conditions like cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis or the presence of a sebaceous cyst can sometimes contribute to abscess formation. This is more likely if these skin conditions are left untreated for an extended period of time.
Complicating Conditions – Conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome or diabetes can sometimes lead to internal injuries that then become infected. These injuries sometimes develop into abscesses.
Immune System Disorders – People with compromised immune systems, such as those affected by HIV, cancer or diabetes may be at a higher risk for developing abscesses.
Other Conditions that Cause Abscesses
Intravenous Drug Use – Injecting drugs with a needle can lead to skin irritation and the introduction of bacteria and/or foreign objects into the skin, resulting in abscess formation.
Surgery – In some cases, surgical incisions can lead to abscesses. This is uncommon but happens occasionally.
Parasites – Rarely, microscopic parasites can invade the body. Their presence can introduce bacteria into the skin which may lead to abscess formation. This is most common in areas of the world where these microscopic organisms are prevalent.
When to Treat Abscesses or Visit the closest ER
Although they are not usually life threatening, you should seek medical help if you notice an abscess on your body. If you discover a lump or unusual spot on your skin or in your mouth that is sore, red or inflamed and warm to the touch, you should see an emergency room doctor to examine the affected area. Do not attempt to treat the abscess at home, as this could spread the infection. Most infections can be treated easily but immediate medical help may be required if the infection worsens and causes severe symptoms.
Call an Emergency Room Immediately If You Have Any of the Following Symptoms.
High or prolonged fever
Nausea or vomiting
Dizziness, weakness or trouble walking
Persistent bleeding from the affected area
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Severe pain that does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications
Black or dead skin around the abscess
Loss of use of limb or another body part
If you need abscess treatment, please visit one of our locations. Our board-certified emergency room doctors and licensed nurses are here to help 24/7. SignatureCare Emergency Center has an emergency room near you. Our ER is open 24/7. We function exactly like a hospital emergency room, without the long wait times.
If you are suffering from a painful abscess, visit a SignatureCare Emergency Center ER immediately. Our emergency room staff is trained to treat the various symptoms of abscesses in our comfortable, state-of-the-art facilities. Don’t wait, visit us now!