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Alternative Names Return to topAbscess - skin; Cutaneous abscess; Subcutaneous abscess
Definition Return to top
A skin abscess is a collection of pus and infected material in or on the skin.
Causes Return to top
Skin abscesses are fairly common. They occur when an infection causes pus and infected material to collect in the skin.
Skin abscesses may occur after:
Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. They affect people of all ages.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Your doctor can diagnose the condition based on the appearance of the area. A culture or examination of any drainage from the lesion may help identify what organism is causing it.
Treatment Return to top
The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. The doctor may cut and drain the abscess to clean the area and control the infection. Antibiotics are given by mouth to control the infection.
Heat (such as warm compresses) may speed healing, reduce inflammation, and make the area feel better. Raise the affected part to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most skin abscesses can be cured with proper treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any signs of skin infection, including:
Also call for an appointment if you develop new symptoms during or after treatment for a skin abscess.
Prevention Return to top
Prevent and watch for bacterial infections. Keep the skin around minor wounds clean and dry. Consult the health care provider if you develop signs of infection. Treat minor infections promptly.Update Date: 10/3/2008 Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.