An Abscess is an infection characterized by a collection of pus underneath a portion of the skin. Bacteria commonly causing abscesses are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus. These bacteria enter the skin through any cracks or injury to the skin. That area of skin then becomes red, tender, warm, and swollen over days to 1–2 weeks and a fever may develop. Abscesses can sometimes form if minor superficial skin infections are not treated appropriately and in a timely fashion. Most abscesses resolve quickly once appropriately treated.
Factors that predispose individuals to developing an abscess include:
- Any skin infection, especially those that are untreated
- Intravenous drug abuse
- Weakened immune system due to underlying illness or medication
Signs and Symptoms
A worsening red, tender swelling that arises over a period of 1–2 weeks. The pus underneath the skin is usually not visible. You may have a fever or a general sense of not feeling well.
There are no self-care options for abscesses. While waiting to see your doctor, you can try applying a warm compress to the affected area and take ibuprofen to help with the swelling and pain.
When to Seek Medical Care ?
A worsening red, tender swelling should prompt you to make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. If the area involves your face, is spreading rapidly, or is in an area that severely limits your functionality, you should seek emergency care.
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