An abscess on the cheek is an accumulation of pus that is located in a cavity newly formed by tissue fusion and separated from the surrounding tissue by a thin membranous capsule. Colloquially, an abscess is also known as a boil and those affected suffer from a “thick cheek“. Depending on the cause, the abscess on the cheek can be located either on the outside of the facial skin or on the inside of the cheek mucosa.
Causes of an abscess on the cheek
Abscesses on the cheeks occur when bacteria enter the tissue through small injuries to the skin or mucous membrane and cause an infection. In most cases, the pathogens causing purulent abscesses are bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus, the most common representative of which is Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria are naturally found on the surface of the body of every human being and normally do not cause any problems there.
However, if the bacteria get under the skin and multiply there, the body reacts with an inflammatory reaction. In the case of an abscess, the immune system is unable to fight the bacteria completely. For this reason, the body encapsulates the infection with a thin capsule from the surrounding tissue, which prevents the inflammation from spreading.
Especially people with a weakened immune system (for example, people with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus or immunocompromised patients after a transplant) are particularly susceptible to the formation of abscesses. The causes of an abscess on the cheek are manifold. Often an abscess forms on the outside of the cheek as a result of a highly inflamed pus pimple.
By pressing around on an immature pimple, bacteria are squeezed into the tissue and lead to the formation of abscesses. Another cause of abscesses on the cheek are piercings, so-called cheeks. By the injury of the skin during piercing bacteria get into the tissue and form an abscess. But also inflammation of teeth, severe periodontitis or inflammation of the jaws can lead to abscess formation on the cheek. – Causes of an abscess
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Symptoms of an abscess on the cheek
An abscess on the cheek leads to the classic signs of inflammation, whereby the severity of the symptoms depends mainly on the severity of the inflammation and the exact location of the abscess. Due to the inflammatory reaction, the tissue around the abscess is heavily swollen, reddened and the skin feels warm. The cheek on the affected side is “thick” due to the swelling and the affected person sometimes feels severe pain, which makes them very sensitive to touching the face.
The pain and swelling can also affect the function of the mouth. This means that the abscess on the cheek causes problems when speaking, chewing and swallowing. Opening the mouth and eating or drinking are also experienced as very painful by those affected.
In the worst case, pus and bacteria from the abscess can get into the bloodstream and lead to blood poisoning (sepsis). The sick persons then feel very ill and have a high fever, which is why a doctor or hospital must be consulted immediately. Sepsis is a serious complication of an abscess, which may even lead to multiple organ failure and death.
A pus pimple on the cheek is already a small abscess, but it is relatively harmless. However, sometimes a simple pus pimple on the cheek can turn into a dangerous abscess. This is mainly due to unprofessional pushing around on the pimple, which causes bacteria to be squeezed from the skin deep into the tissue and can lead to severe inflammation.
Therefore skin impurities should only be expressed with a clean handkerchief or by a cosmetician. If an abscess has formed from the pimple, this can be recognized by the severe swelling and redness of the skin. The abscess on the cheek can either be treated with pulling ointment or, in the worst case, must be cut open.
Abscesses that form on the inside of the cheek mucosa are often caused by diseases of the teeth and the periodontium. These include purulent periodontitis, severe tooth inflammation or inflamed wounds after tooth removal. But even a small injury to the oral mucosa is sufficient for bacteria to penetrate the tissue and cause an encapsulated inflammation.
Sometimes the bacteria are also spread into the mouth via the bloodstream from another part of the body and then encapsulate themselves there. Often, however, the exact cause of abscess formation on the inside of the cheek is not entirely clear. An abscess on the inside of the cheek is diagnosed by a dentist.
The doctor cuts the abscess through a small incision in the cheek mucosa and allows the collected pus to drain off. The procedure takes place under local anaesthetic. After the abscess has been cut open and emptied, the patient will feel an immediate improvement of the symptoms.
The doctor then prescribes antibiotics. This supports the healing process and also prevents an abscess from forming in the same place again immediately. An abscess on the cheek consists of an encapsulated collection of pus under the skin.
The pus is a whitish fluid that is formed from dead tissue, lost white blood cells and bacteria. As the tissue dies, a new cavity is formed in which pus can accumulate. If an abscess matures, the pus accumulation is visible as a white head. The doctor cuts out the abscess and lets the pus drain off. Since the pus fluid contains bacteria, it is still infectious and must be completely removed from the wound, otherwise an abscess can quickly form again.