What are they and what are the symptoms?
Has your skin ever become inflamed for what seemed like no apparent reason? Your skin has tons of bacteria on it, which are usually harmless. However, sometimes bacteria travel down the hairs on your skin to the hair follicle or even enter the skin through openings like scrapes and cuts. When this happens, you may get an infection known as an abscess or boil.
What do abscesses and boils look like?
Abscesses and boils are localized infections in the skin, usually bumps filled with pus or fluid. They occur anywhere on the body and are common at any age. Abscesses tend to be deeper infections, forming larger bumps on the skin. Boils and even cystic acne are forms of abscesses.
Boils are more superficial and occur around a hair follicle or oil gland. Cystic acne occurs when bacteria become trapped in a pore, making the area red and swollen. Hormones called androgens play a role in cystic acne, which is why it’s most common in teenagers.
There are two main causes for abscesses: bacteria and obstruction of glands or hair follicles.
The most common bacterial cause for an abscess is Staphylococcus (or staph). This strain of bacteria is easily transmitted, presenting a high risk for infection. Abscesses can also form from acne or eczema because these conditions present an easy opportunity for bacteria to enter the body. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are also susceptible to abscesses.
- Obstruction of glands or hair follicles.
Abscesses can also happen when hair follicles or oil or sweat glands are obstructed. When a hair gets trapped under the skin, causing an ingrown hair, it can set the stage for an infection.
The most common symptom is a small, hard, red bump in the skin. This is typically how boils and abscesses begin. As time passes, the inflamed area becomes larger and softer. As an abscess forms, the middle of the bump liquefies, causing pressure under the skin and making the surrounding tissue inflamed, which is what makes it painful. As the abscess progresses, a pocket of pus forms at the top and it can spontaneously open.
It’s important to know how to treat a boil or abscess. In many cases, you can treat them at home with over-the-counter medicine or with a warm compress, and they will go away on their own.
Sometimes abscesses are more difficult to treat and require medical attention to drain them. If the infection isn’t going away on its own, it’s necessary to seek medical attention because without care, the infection can spread to tissues under the skin or even to the bloodstream.
Generally, your doctor will drain away the pus from the abscess by making a small cut at the top. It’s important to know that not all medical facilities can drain and treat abscesses and boils. At Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center, we’re equipped and ready to treat abscesses and boils at our walk-in clinics in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Bossier City and Natchitoches, Louisiana. Stop by today if you or a loved one has a bothersome abscess or boil. We will have you feeling better in no time.
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