What Are Abscesses?

A skin abscess is a buildup “pocket” of pus under the skin.

An abscess is similar to a pimple, but usually larger and deeper under your skin. They most commonly form when your body is trying to protect itself from some type of infection or irritation. Abscesses form over infected and/or irritated areas of the skin creating a wall around themselves with pus containing bacteria, white blood cells, and dead skin. The most common types of bacteria contained in abscesses are Staphylococcus aureus (known as “staph”) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA). When this bacteria penetrates your skin through a cut, a hair follicle they can lead to an abscess.

Signs and Symptoms of an Abscess

A skin abscess is round and feels firm due to the membrane that forms around it and the pus inside.

Symptoms of an abscess may include:

  • Local swelling around the infected spot
  • Hardened, firm skin tissue around the area
  • Painful to the touch
  • Redness, tenderness, and warmth in the area
  • Fluid or pus drainage

Causes of an Abscess

Skin abscesses may appear anywhere on the body and can affect people of all ages.They  typically occur when there is a:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Boil
  • Folliculitis also know as a infected hair follicle
  • Minor cut or wound folliculitis (infection in a hair follicle)

Abscess Treatments

The most appropriate way to treat an abscess is to see one of our dermatologist who can open the infected pocket and drain the pus. This is a simple procedure typically done be applying numbing medicine and then making a small incision to drain the area.

Home Treatment

If you are trying to treat your abscess at home you can try applying moist heat using a warm compresses to the affected area to help the abscess drain and heal faster. But do not push on or squeeze the abscess.