Have you ever had to worry so much about the state of your abscess? Maybe it’s getting more uncomfortable or taking way too long to heal?
Your worries are completely understandable because usually, skin abscess is not dangerous and should disappear on its own after a while, but what could cause your abscess to refuse to heal?
And what do you do in a situation when it’s not? The reason this article exists is to give you answers to such questions. Find out as you read on.
How To Tell If Your Abscess Is Healing
It’s easy to tell if your abscess is healing, as the pus will dry out gradually after drainage.
Sores will heal entirely within ten to fourteen days, and the pain improves gradually, subsiding each day.
If your abscess is healing, there is a lesser chance that the sore will get larger, or the pus will get bigger.
The infection gradually dies off, and new tissues replace the surface of the affected area.
Also, if your abscess heals entirely with the conditions causing it, it is less likely to grow back on the same surface or other parts of the body.
What Is Abscess?
An abscess is a pocket of pus that collects in the tissues, organs, or spaces on the body’s surface. It can occur in almost any area of the body.
When an area of the body gets infected, the immune system tries to fight off the infection.
White blood cells accumulate in the affected area, collecting within the damaged tissues and causing inflammation.
Pus is a mixture of living and dead white blood cells, germs, and dead tissues.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other foreign objects in the body could all lead to an abscess.
Skin abscesses are easy to detect as red, puffed, or raised and usually painful.
A skin abscess is sometimes referred to as a boil and can develop in any part of the body.
It can develop from a wound, blocked oil gland, insect bite, pimple, bacterial or viral infection.
If the infected area of your abscess is treated thoroughly, there are possibilities of it not returning.
However, if the condition that caused the abscess is not healed, the abscess can return at that exact spot or other parts of the body.
The symptoms of an abscess are a swollen skin or pus-filled lump right below the skin’s surface, a painful red bump, and a yellow-white tip that develops and eventually ruptures, allowing the pus to drain out.
Pains would be experienced in the affected area, sometimes accompanied by an elevated and rapid increase in temperature and a general feeling of not feeling well.
What Causes An Abscess?
The primary cause of abscess in the body is a bacterial or viral infection.
When our body system gets attacked by bacteria or viral infections, a series of responses follows.
These responses cause the formation of an abscess.
A broken skin barrier from injury, trauma, tears, or inflammation leaves a chance for bacteria to enter the skin.
An abscess is formed after this as the body’s defense against such infection.
The most common type of bacteria that causes abscesses is staphylococcus aureus. This type of bacteria is commonly found on the skin and in the skin and nose.
Skin abscess sometimes forms at the site where the skin has been broken either by a minor injury or an insect bite, giving the bacteria easy entry into the body.
Being in close contact with someone with the bacteria can increase an individual’s risk of exposure to an abscess.
Other factors that could increase the risk of exposure to abscess include:
Weakened Immune System
People with weakened immune systems or those who have HIV/AIDS or sickle cell disease might get abscesses more often.
They are at higher risk of getting abscess often because their body has a decreased ability to ward off infections.
Although diabetes is not directly linked to the formation of abscesses, irregular changes in blood sugar levels can leave one’s skin susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
Abscesses are formed because of bacteria like staphylococcus aureus and fungus.
There is a strong relationship between malnutrition and infections; poor nutrition leaves people weak, underweight, and vulnerable to several diseases.
It also weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of exposure to infection.
Other skin conditions
Other skin conditions like acne, eczema, poor skin condition, poor personal hygiene are also risk factors of abscesses.
Anything that can irritate the skin or cause infections can also lead to the formation of a spot.
Other risk factors include exposure to unclean environments, poor circulation, severe burns or trauma, alcoholism, obesity, sickle cell disease e.t.c.
How Long Does It Take For An Abscess To Heal?
With proper care, your abscess will heal within one to two weeks, depending on the size.
After the pus drains from the spot and is well dressed, it will heal in two weeks.
Sometimes, your abscess might drain itself or get drained by a healthcare professional.
After it has been drained, there are specific ways to care for your abscess to make them heal within the stipulated two weeks.
You may be required to repackage, soak, wash or bandage your pus for about seven to ten days after drainage.
However, when your abscess does not heal after two weeks, and you notice them getting more extensive or more painful, then something is wrong.
Signs that your bump might need medical advice or intervention includes
- You have increased redness and swelling of your abscess.
- Red streaks on the skin of your abscess
- Increased pain and swelling
- The rapid increase in temperature
- If it gets more significant than 1cm.
- If a second boil appears.
- If the boil occurs on the face, the top of the buttocks, genital parts, or groin area.
- If the boil refuses to drain.
How To Treat Abscess
Treating your abscess can come as quickly as applying warm compresses on the affected area for a few minutes daily, and it can also be as complicated as having to go through surgical procedures for its removal.
The location of your abscess and the severity are factors that will determine the methods of treating your abscess.
Infections from an abscess are treated using antibiotics alone, but for antibiotics to work, they would first need to get to the bacteria through the bloodstream.
However, this procedure is not entirely effective, making incision and drainage the most reliable treatment method.
This entails cutting open the wound and draining out everything within it.
The surface area will be covered in antiseptic solution, and place a sterile towel around it.
The health professional will cut the abscess open using sterilized objects and drain out the pus, after which other medications like antibiotics will be prescribed for a faster healing process.
This procedure needs to be done thoroughly so that all the separation gets removed and no parts of the abscess remain.
Often, there is a large empty cavity left behind after the drainage, and this cavity could quickly get infected.
To prevent that from happening, the process doesn’t just end with draining the fluids; the large abscess is drained and packed with gauze or bandage to fill the space till the tissue heals naturally on its own.
After the area has been bandaged, you will be given a couple of home care instructions which involve soaking, washing, cleaning, and changing the bandage on the surface occasionally until the sore completely heals.
Maintaining A Good Hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene is another way of keeping yourself free from the risks of abscesses.
Seek immediate medical attention when you get injured to prevent further infection. Clean your wound regularly, change the gauze and keep a neat environment.
Avoid draining your abscess by yourself or picking it with unsterilized needles and shape objects.
Doing this might injure the underlying blood vessels, causing further infection.
Deeper abscesses need to be drained with longer needles or surgical procedures, depending on their location.
Examples of such are internal abscesses that can only be treated through surgeries.
Finally, antibiotics are sometimes used even after the drainage to ensure no other bacteria are left within the pus.
Most people felt better after the pus is drained and the healing process begins.
However, if the pus continues to grow, increasing to more than 1cm, it gets red and swollen or doesn’t heal after two weeks, pay a second visit to the physician.
Abscess drainage is the safest and most effective way to take care of your abscess, but it should not be done in an unsterilized environment or by a non-health practitioner.
If you follow the doctor’s advice and take good care of the abscess after drainage, then you shouldn’t have a problem at all.
Healthline: Abscess Drainage: Procedures, Recovery, Recurrence
Medline plus: Abscess – MedlinePlus