Abscess: help against the pus


An abscess is a collection of pus caused by bacteria. It usually develops under the skin, sometimes on the gums. At an abscess you should never push around or puncture him: If the bacteria get into the blood, threatens a blood poisoning.

In the case of an abscess, bacteria invade the tissue via minute skin injuries and trigger inflammation. As a rule, an abscess under the skin is extremely painful, the affected area swells and reddens. The purulent bump requires space. Therefore, a cavity develops, the so-called abscess cavity, which in turn is surrounded by a capsule. The body forms this capsule as a protective cover and delimitation from the surrounding tissue, so that the pathogens can not spread.

An abscess often arises directly under the skin, but it can also form on the gums or on internal organs such as the intestine. Get pus and bacteria into the blood, they dissolve in the worst case, a blood poisoning from (sepsis).

Important! Never tackle an abscess by trying to “squeeze” it like a pimple. You can do more damage by damaging the capsule and poking the pus with the bacteria into the tissue. Better look up a doctor and let the abscess open professionally.

Abscess causes: This is how the purulent bump develops

An abscess can develop in various parts of the body. An infection with bacteria is always the cause of the purulent bump. Most of them are staphylococci, especially Staphylococcus aureus . These germs are often normal inhabitants of the skin and an integral part of the skin flora. The smallest skin injuries, such as those caused by shaving, or an abrasion on the arm, which is not adequately treated, serve as a portal of entry for the pathogens. The organism reacts to the invaders with an inflammatory reaction – an abscess develops.

Risk factors for abscesses

Physicians know various risk factors that favor the formation of abscesses. These include, for example:

  • Skin injuries after accidents or surgery
  • the diabetes mellitus diabetes
  • Skin diseases like eczema
  • a weakened immune system, for example due to infections ( colds , flu ), chronic diseases or after an organ transplant
  • Smoking, which weakens the immune system
  • chronic inflammation, such as the chronic inflammatory bowel disease Crohn ‘s disease or sinusitis (sinusitis)
  • too tight clothing that rubs on the skin, for example on the inner thighs
  • badly treated wounds and injuries

Sometimes an abscess forms out of nowhere, without obvious cause. The accumulation of pus can be harmless and harmless, but can also be a real health hazard – depending on the size, location and location of the abscess.

Symptoms: You recognize an abscess

Abscesses can measure only a few millimeters and resemble a pimple, but can also take on significantly larger proportions. An abscess usually arises in the skin. It can affect all body parts, such as the face, neck, upper body, arms or legs. The purulent bump can also form in less obvious places, such as in the nose, in the mouth (gums), genital area or the anus (anal abscess). Particularly dangerous are abscesses that develop on and in the organs, for example in glands, the liver, the bones, in the brain , intestine, in the chest and lungs. Then the risk of sepsis is high. Also, the organ can carry lasting damage.

Typical abscess symptoms are:

  • Skin abscess: Due to the inflammation, the affected skin area is swollen, reddened, feels warm and is extremely sensitive to touch. The abscess can also hurt without being pressed. Sometimes the pus accumulation is recognizable as a white spot. Chills , fever, and general malaise may develop as symptoms of the spread of the infection .
  • Anal abscess: It causes severe pain that makes even normal sitting impossible.
  • Internal abscess: This is more difficult to recognize because it initially runs without symptoms. Only when the abscess is ripe, bursts and the pus pours into the body, the affected people develop fever, chills and a strong feeling of illness. These are alarm signals that the infection spreads – it can come to septicemia (sepsis), which can cause a failure of all organs. Sepsis is life-threatening and must be treated immediately.

Diagnosis: When to abscess to the doctor?

Do not work on an abscess yourself with your fingers or pointed objects! Do not squeeze or squeeze the affected area and do not prick the bump. If the abscess is extremely painful and getting bigger, you should definitely consult a doctor.

This also applies in the following cases:

  • General malaise, fever and chills: These symptoms indicate that the bacteria have gotten into the blood stream – it threatens a blood poisoning.
  • Red, aching band under the skin, which starts from the abscess: This indicates that the pathogens have spread from the tissue into the lymphatics – the pathways are inflamed and there is lymphangitis, which must be treated in time.
  • Abscesses in the area of ​​the head, neck and ears: The focus of infection is near the brain. There is a risk that bacteria will get there and cause a very dangerous bacterial meningitis .
  • Abscesses in the anal area: This body region is naturally populated by numerous bacteria. If the abscess is not treated properly, it can spread, become chronic, or lead to fistulas. This creates small passages through which bacteria can penetrate further into the tissue and thus into the body. A chronic inflammation arises.              

Recognize external abscesses

A doctor can often already recognize the abscess based on the appearance: The skin is reddened, swollen and feels warm or hot. Pain on touch or pressure on the skin area is also typical. Symptoms such as chills, fever and general malaise confirm the abscess diagnosis.

Blood test for inflammatory findings

A blood test will determine if the inflammatory levels are elevated. The so-called C-reactive protein ( CRP ) is determined. Although this inflammatory marker proves that inflammation is present in the body, but not where it is located. An increased number of white blood cells is also an indication of inflammation.

Determine pathogen by smear

In addition, a smear of pus helps with a cotton swab to get the triggering bacterium on the track. The sample is analyzed in the laboratory and the pathogen is determined. Often staphylococci (usually Staphylococcus aureus) or streptococci are detectable.

The right therapies for abscess

Basically you look better at an abscess on the doctor. This is especially true if the accumulation of pus has formed near the brain, ie in the face, mouth or throat. The bacteria can spread to the brain and cause significant damage there. The abscess treatment depends on how big the pus is and where in the body it is. In general: The pus must go out!

Train ointment against minor abscesses

Train Ointments are proven remedies for inflammatory skin conditions and help with smaller abscesses. As the name suggests, the ointment pulls out the inflammation, it speeds up the maturation and emptying of the abscess. Train ointments relieve the pain and the pressure feeling, have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. They slow down sebum production and promote blood circulation. The ointments may contain different active ingredients in different dosages. Frequently used is sulfonated shale oil in the form of the active ingredient ammonium bituminosulfonate (Ichthammolum). Some ointments are available – depending on the dosage – over the counter in the pharmacy or in the internet distribution trade.

The train ointment ensures that the abscess empties itself after some time. Then clean the skin with a wound disinfectant and cover it with a plaster. Mostly everything heals completely in a few days. If the pain persists and the wound environment is still red, or if the wound fills again, you should (again) go to the doctor.

Surgically remove larger abscesses

Larger abscesses opened the doctor usually with a scalpel. Depending on the size and location of the surgical intervention is under regional anesthesia or general anesthesia. Often a small cut through the skin is sufficient, the abscess capsule opens and the pus can drain away via a drainage. The drainage ensures that bacteria are not trafficked into the neighboring tissue and cause blood poisoning. Thereafter, the doctor thoroughly cleanses the wound and removes inflamed tissue.

The wound is not sewn, but further treated open. Thus, remaining fluid and bacteria have no chance to re-encapsulate and cause a new abscess. The wound should be inspected regularly, cleaned and connected until it is completely healed. For larger abscesses, sometimes a second surgical procedure is necessary. Also, antibiotics are often used to supplement in this case.

Antibiotics do not work sufficiently

Although antibiotics are proven drugs that target bacteria. However, they usually do not help enough with an abscess. The abscess is encapsulated and therefore poorly supplied with blood. Thus, the active ingredients from the drugs do not reach the inflamed, purulent body in sufficient quantities. The sole use of antibiotics against the purulent epithelium is therefore usually not enough.

Course and chances of recovery in abscesses

An abscess usually heals without any problems. However, you will need a little patience because the healing process can take a few days to weeks. The course depends on where the pus is and which extent it has. Internal abscesses on organs are more dangerous than superficial abscesses and usually take longer to decay. Also timely and effective treatment (see above) is important to eliminate the abscess.

Can one prevent an abscess?

You can hardly prevent an abscess. However, the following tips reduce the risk of an abscess developing:

  • Treat small injuries such as shaving cuts or abrasions after a fall sufficiently. Disinfect the wound, then bacteria have less chances to penetrate through the skin.
  • Do not wear too tight clothing that constricts the skin. Constant scrubbing and rubbing on the skin increase the risk of inflammation and abscess.
  • Make sure you have a high-fiber diet that protects against constipation , for example . Digestive problems are often a risk factor for anal abscesses.
  • For repeated abscesses you should consult a doctor for advice – they may be an indication of the diabetes mellitus diabetes .
  • Strengthen your immune system, then bacteria and other pathogens less easy game. A healthy diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as sufficient exercise boost the body’s defenses.