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What Is an Abscess?


An abscess is a painful collection of pus in any part of organic structure, mainly caused by bacterial infection. This collection of pus occur when an particular area becomes infected and the body's immune system tries to defend yourself. Bacteria that invade the body are attacked by white blood cells, and pus is formed, which is discharged through the skin. Abscesses which are placed on surface we call boils. An abscess usually happens under the skin of patient and may be caused by an infection of any small gland in the skin, a minor abrasion, or a cut. It is known that abscesses occur in the moist areas of the organic structure, such as groin or armpit, and are more often in individuals with diabetes.



Internal abscesses often develop as a complication of an existing condition, such as an abscess in the tonsils after having acute tonsillitis. This rare condition is known as quinsy. Individuals who have an underlying health condition or damage to their immune system are more likely to be affected by internal abscesses.
External abscesses may occur anywhere on the skin. They develop when an open wound gets exposed to bacteria. The wound does not have to be large. Sometimes the wound is only a small scrape. Sweat and oil glands can also produce abscesses after exposure to bacteria. Bacteria is present on practically everything we touch. That is why it is essential to keep an open would clean and covered to prevent bacterial contamination. Staphylococcus is a bacteria that commonly is responsible for abscess development.

    There are several different types of abscess and they are listed as follows:

  • Abdominal abscess - Is an infected pocket of fluid and pus located inside the belly area (abdominal cavity).

  • Liver abscess (amebic or pyogenic) - It can be caused by an abdominal infection, such as appendicitis, a blood infection or an infection of the passages that transport bile around the human body.

  • Anorectal abscess - Usually is recognized as a collection of pus that builds up in the rectum and anus. The rectum is the area of the large intestine where stools are stored and the anus is the opening through which they are passed. This abscess can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), a blocked gland or an infection of an anal fissure (a tear or ulcer in the lining of the anal canal).

  • Bartholin's abscess - This type of abscess is a build-up of pus from one of the Bartholinís glands, which are placed on each side of the opening of the vagina. If the gland gets blocked, an abscess may form.

  • Brain abscess - This type of abscess is rare but it can be life threatening condition. The build-up of pus is mainly caused by bacteria, which can occur following trauma to the skull, after surgery or from a previous infection.

  • Epidural (spinal) abscess - Mostly occurs as collection of pus between the outer covering of the brain and spinal cord and the bones of the skull or spine. The abscess causes swelling in the area.

  • Peritonsillar abscess (quinsy) - An abscess that forms in the tissue walls beside the tonsils (the lymph organs in the back of the throat).

  • Skin abscess - This abscess can develop anywhere on the body. It mostly occur when a bacterial infection causes pus to collect in the skin. Also, this abscess can develop on the skin(cutaneous abscess) or under the surface of the skin (subcutaneous abscess).

  • Spinal cord abscess - An abscess which is caused by an infection inside the spine that results in inflammation (swelling) and a build-up of pus around the spinal cord.

  • Tooth (dental) abscess - Usually it is a build-up of pus inside a tooth that is result of an bacterial infection. Bacteria can infect the tooth as a result of tooth decay. Also, there is a possibility of dental abscess within the bone that supports the tooth structure and within the gums.

It is recommendable to visit or call your GP if you have any suspicions in abscess development. A small skin abscess may drain naturally and disappear without any treatment. Larger abscesses can be treated with antibiotics to clear the infection and surgery to drain away the pus. Warning: without treatment, an abscess may continue to get larger and more painful until it eventually bursts. In case that medical practitioner decide to do some tests, a sample of fluid will be taken from the abscess and tested to see what organism is causing the problem. Prevention of abscesses depends on where they develop. Regular skin and tooth hygiene will significantly decrease develop of abscess in that areas of organic structure.


MRSA and Abscess


Often times, typical case of MRSA abscess starts when a break in the skin occurs such as with a harmless scratch or superficial cut. This allows the MRSA bacteria to penetrate below the skin causing a localized infection called an abscess. Without appropriate treatment a MRSA abscess can extend to involve deeper muscle tissue or the MRSA bacteria can enter the blood circulation and spread to other parts of the body.Usually, MRSA infection causes an inflamed abscess that needs to be surgically drained after anesthetized locally. Only after evacuating the pus and dead tissue can the infection be successfully handled.


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