An abscess on the chin is an accumulation of pus in an encapsulated tissue cavity. The pus is caused by the penetration of certain pathogens, which cause an inflammatory reaction and multiply. In most cases, these pathogens are certain bacteria, the so-called staphylococci, which are part of the normal skin colonization and can penetrate the tissue due to a small injury to the skin.
The body’s immune system tries to kill the invading bacteria, causing pus to form. In addition to the bacteria and dead cell parts, this also contains defence cells of the body’s immune system. Through pressure in the surrounding tissue, the abscess can cause severe pain in the chin, which can spread over the entire face.
Abscesses in the face and jaw area can also be caused by pathological changes in the teeth. For example, root remains remaining in the jaw can lead to abscesses in the lower jaw. If an abscess develops on a hair root of the chin, it is called a boil. If several of these boils are adjacent to each other and merge into each other, one speaks of a carbuncle.
Causes of an abscess on the chin
There are several causes for the development of an abscess on the chin. However, the most common cause is considered to be the penetration of pathogens, which leads to an inflammatory reaction. Often these are bacteria that belong to the normal skin colonization and therefore also occur on the skin of healthy people.
Besides streptococci, staphylococci also play an important role, especially Staphylococcus aureus. In order for the bacteria to be able to penetrate the skin, an entry point is required. These are small scratches or open skin areas that can result from small injuries or cuts, for example after shaving in men.
The body activates its immune system to fight the pathogens and as a result pus develops. This is then encased in a capsule to prevent further spread to the surrounding tissue. Many other factors are also known to promote the development of a chin abscess.
A skin that is already pre-damaged, as for example in patients with neurodermatitis, leads to an easier entry of the bacteria. In addition, a weakened or malfunctioning immune system poses an increased risk. In addition, a lack of facial hygiene and existing metabolic disorders also favour the development of an abscess.
Symptoms of abscess on the chin
As symptoms of an abscess on the chin the typical signs of inflammation should be mentioned. The chin is often very swollen, overheated and appears reddened in relation to the surrounding area. In addition, the affected area is usually very painful under pressure.
The resulting pain can spread to the surrounding facial structures and lead to functional limitations. Therefore, for example, disturbances in chewing can occur. On the surface of the abscess it is often possible to find a small pus point which is surrounded by the abscess capsule.
In the case of abscesses that are localised in deeper tissue layers, a symptom-free course can initially develop. Only when the abscess exceeds a certain size can symptoms appear. If the abscess opens, the pathogens can spread and general symptoms of illness, such as fever and general malaise, develop.
If the pathogens continue to spread and enter the bloodstream, blood poisoning can develop. In particular, abscesses located above an imaginary line between the earlobe and the equilateral corner of the mouth are a risk factor for the spread of the pathogens into the meninges or brain. To prevent potential complications, an abscess should always be treated quickly.
Besides symptoms such as fever and general fatigue, an abscess usually causes pain. The pain can occur mainly when the chin is moved, for example when chewing or speaking, but also at rest. If the pain occurs during movement, it is a tension pain.
In addition, touching the abscess is very painful in most cases. The pain is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the nerve fibres. They usually disappear quickly once the abscess has been opened.
A swelling of the skin is very typical of an abscess. The accumulation of pus pushes the tissue outwards. Depending on how superficial the abscess is, it can also shine through the skin.
Sometimes the abscess can also open on its own. If the abscess is deeper in the tissue, the skin may just bend over. Sometimes the swelling is also strongly reddened and overheated.
If the swelling is palpated, it usually feels tight and elastic. The lymph nodes can react to an abscess by swelling and becoming enlarged. The swelling of the lymph nodes is not untypical in an abscess, but it does not have to be present.
The swelling then affects the so-called Nodi lymphoidei submentales, which can be palpated superficially below the chin. Palpation of the swollen lymph nodes is usually painful. The swelling of the lymph nodes is caused by the inflammation caused by the abscess and is a sign that the immune system is working. The swelling of the lymph nodes should go down with treatment of the abscess.