Abscess

Definition

An abscess is a collection of pus (neutrophils) that has accumulated within a tissue because of an inflammatory process.

Causes

Abscesses occur when an area of tissue becomes infected in response to either an infections process (usually caused by bacteria or parasites) or other foreign materials (e.g., splinters, bullet wounds, or injecting needles).Subsequently the body's immune system tries to fight it by moving white blood cells through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collecting in the damaged tissue to destroy whatever's causing the infection. Some of these white blood cells will end up in pus, which also includes stuff like dead skin and dead germs. The final structure of the abscess is a capsule that is formed by the adjacent healthy cells in an attempt to keep the pus from infecting neighboring structures. However, such encapsulation tends to prevent immune cells from attacking bacteria and all the nasty stuff in it. Though the body considers pus garbage and will try to get rid of it. But, when pus collects in a capsulated structure, it may not be able to drain out. As pus builds up, it can press against the skin and surrounding inflamed tissue, which hurts.

Types of abscess

Types of abscesses include:

·        Abdominal abscess

·        Amebic liver abscess

·        Anorectal abscess

·        Bartholin's abscess

·        Brain abscess

·        Epidural abscess

·        Peritonsillar abscess

·        Pyogenic liver abscess

·        Skin abscess

·        Spinal cord abscess

·        Subcutaneous abscess

·        Tooth abscess

Symptoms of abscess

Common symptoms are

·         pain

·         swelling

·         redness

·         pus formation

·         discharge

·         Fever

·         Neurological symptoms in case of brain abscess

·         Septicemia or severe infection in case of serious condition

Cautions

·        If the abscess is small (less than 1 cm or less than a half-inch across), applying warm compresses to the area for about 30 minutes 4 times daily can help.

·        Do not attempt to drain the abscess by pressing on it. This can push the infected material into the deeper tissues.

·        Do not stick a needle or other sharp instrument into the abscess center because you may injure an underlying blood vessel or cause the infection to spread.