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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Abscesses and Boils
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

An abscess is an accumulation of pus that can occur anywhere in the body, including on the skin and inside of organs and tissues. When an abscess forms around a hair follicle, it is known as a boil. Boils often surface on the buttocks, the underarms, the neck, and the face. They first begin as small, firm, and tender nodules that become red and swollen. Generally, boils do not spread. Within two to four days, a pustule usually forms in the center of the infected area. Then, several days later, it tends to rupture and drain the white or yellow-colored pus. The abscess is called a carbuncle when the skin is red, painful, swollen, and warm, and it forms an elevated lump.

An abscess can occur on anyone at any age. No one is immune to them. They are generally triggered by an impaired immune system, trauma, improper drainage of tissues, bacterial invasion, poor nutrition, and other factors. Skin abscesses tend to develop in places where tight clothing rubs against the skin, as well as around small puncture wounds or cuts. The infected area becomes tender, red, and swollen, and fever may be present.

Delayed or improper treatment can lead to a spreading of the infection. People with a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS or diabetes, are more susceptible to a serious infection. Depending on the severity and the location of the infection, antibiotics may be required. In some cases, the abscess will be cut and drained by your doctor. Consult your doctor about any skin abscess that appears on your face, contains red streaks, or is filled with fluids. See your dentist regarding any mouth abscesses. If antibiotics are required, ensure a quicker recovery by simultaneously using natural treatments.

Next: What are the Symptoms of Abscesses and Boils

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