From Latin the word abscess is translated simply – an abscess. With this Latin term, doctors designate an active inflammatory process in which a cavity filled with pus is formed in living tissue.
See what an abscess looks like
An abscess can occur in any part of the human body, including internal organs. But more often it affects the skin in the armpits, groin, the area around the anus, the base of the spine and gums near the teeth.
Inflammation around the hair follicle can also lead to the formation of an abscess – this type of abscess is commonly called a boil.
How to understand that you have an abscess
Symptoms of an external abscess developing inside the skin are usually obvious :
- it looks like a dense swelling, a “bump” that has grown under the skin;
- touching him is painful;
- the skin on the affected area turns red and feels hot to the touch;
- not always, but quite often it is possible to consider the accumulation of white or yellow pus under stretched skin.
Extensive subcutaneous abscesses may also be accompanied by fever.
The abscesses that arose on the internal organs or in the tissues between them are more difficult to recognize. The signs of an abscess in this case are vague and can vary depending on which organ is affected. For example, a liver abscess is often accompanied by jaundice – yellowing of the skin of the body and the whites of the eyes. An abscess in the lungs causes coughing and shortness of breath.
If we talk about the general and most common symptoms of an internal abscess, then here they are:
- discomfort and pain in the area of the organ on which the abscess arose;
- temperature rise;
- loss of appetite up to complete reluctance to eat;
- active sweating;
- distinct weakness.
Small abscesses often resolve by themselves. However, much more negative scenarios are possible.
When you need to seek help faster
Consult a physician or surgeon immediately if:
- the diameter of the subcutaneous abscess exceeds 1 cm;
- the abscess continues to grow and becomes more painful;
- inflammation has occurred in the inguinal or anus;
- an abscess is accompanied by an increase in temperature.
Contact the emergency department or call an ambulance if:
- An abscess with a diameter of more than a centimeter appeared on the face.
- The temperature rose to 38.8 ° C and higher.
- You notice red stripes under the skin that extend to the side of the abscess.
- In the area between the abscess and the chest, the lymph nodes enlarged. For example, an abscess on the leg can cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin.
Such symptoms suggest that there is a high risk of blood poisoning. And this is a deadly condition.
What to do if you have an abscess
Ideally, any abscess, even if it looks small and relatively harmless, should be shown to a doctor – therapist, surgeon or dermatologist. A specialist will examine the abscess, evaluate its location and size, analyze your health condition. And after that it will give recommendations on how and how to treat the abscess in your specific case. Please note: you may need to take antibiotics or surgical removal of the abscess.
Until you get to the doctor, you can try to alleviate the condition with home methods .
Put warm compresses
They will help reduce pain and accelerate the maturation of the abscess. 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes, apply gauze soaked in warm water to the affected area.
Apply an antiseptic ointment with a stretching effect on an abscess. Consult with your doctor about which is better and safer to apply in your case.
Do not forget about antiseptics
If the abscess opened on its own, wash the wound with antibacterial soap and treat it with any antiseptic, it can be alcohol-based. Then apply an antibacterial ointment (for example, levomekol or tetracycline) and apply a bandage. 2-3 times a day, rinse the wound with warm water and apply warm compresses until healing.
What can never be done if you have an abscess
Try to squeeze pus
Pressure can drive it deeper, which means that the abscess will only increase in size.
Pierce an abscess with a needle
You can accidentally damage a blood vessel, which means pus will enter the bloodstream with the expected consequences in the form of sepsis.
Hoping only for home methods
Do not continue home treatment if the abscess does not decrease in size (and even more so if it continues to grow) for a couple of days. Consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Do not consider general health
Do not take risks, but immediately consult a doctor if an abscess develops against a background of problems with the cardiovascular system, iron deficiency anemia, diabetes, any malfunctions in the immune system or the use of drugs that suppress immunity. In this case, the protective forces of the body may not be enough to defeat the infection on its own.