Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Skin Abscess Overview

What is a skin abscess?
A person with a skin abscess has a collection of pus under the surface of the skin, caused by an infection. Pus is made up of infected tissue and white blood cells. Skin abscesses are caused by bacteria that are normally present on the surface of the skin. Bacteria may enter the tissue beneath the skin after an injury. The body forms a wall around the infected tissue, in order to fight the infection. Common injuries that lead to skin abscess include abrasions, lacerations, and puncture wounds.

What are the symptoms of a skin abscess?
The most common symptom of skin abscess is a painful skin lump. Pus may drain from the skin lump. Pus may be white, yellow, green or brown. Additional symptoms may include fever, as well as redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth around the lump.

How does the doctor treat a skin abscess?
Treatment for a skin abscess include warm compresses, gentle skin cleansing, antibiotics, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Surgery may be required to drain pus from the abscess.

Continue to Skin Abscess Risk Factors

Last Updated: Oct 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Skin Abscess References
  1. Hedrick J. Acute bacterial skin infections in pediatric medicine: current issues in presentation and treatment. Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5 Suppl 1:35-46. [14632104]
  2. Laube S, Farrell AM. Bacterial skin infections in the elderly: diagnosis and treatment. Drugs Aging. 2002;19(5):331-42. [12093320]
  3. Llera JL, Levy RC. Treatment of cutaneous abscess: a double-blind clinical study. Ann Emerg Med. 1985 Jan;14(1):15-9. [3880635]
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