Abscess on the head


An abscess on the head is defined as an encapsulated collection of pus. Due to various causes, a so-called abscess cavity develops, which is separated from the surrounding tissue, for example muscle, by a kind of capsule. Within this capsule is pus, which consists of bacteria and dead cells, as well as white blood cells, so-called lymphocytes.

The abscess can break through and empty itself into the surrounding tissue. This is a dangerous complication of the abscess. Abscesses on the head can occur in different locations and thus cause very different symptoms. The type of treatment is also different.


The causes of abscesses on the head are very diverse. Abscesses of the scalp can be caused by pre-existing boils. These often develop without any particular cause.

However, small wounds or injuries can promote the entry of pathogens into the skin. People with an immunodeficiency have a higher risk of developing a head abscess. Abscesses that are deeper-seated are special clinical pictures.

They usually develop at the bottom of another inflammation. For example, an abscess of the tonsils is caused by a bacterial inflammation of special glands. This is favoured by smoking and poor oral hygiene, but can also occur after a tonsil operation.

Abscesses of the throat wall are often caused by bacterial inflammation of the lymph nodes. Brain abscesses develop in different ways. Pathogens from a middle ear infection, sinusitis or dental infection can enter the brain directly due to the limited space available and cause an abscess.

In addition, pathogens can be transported to the brain through the blood. This can happen in the course of sepsis, for example in the case of heart valve inflammation or pneumonia. Finally, brain abscesses can also be caused by injuries to the skull or after neurosurgical interventions as a complication.


The diagnosis of a head abscess can be made by various diagnostic means. On the one hand, the medical history, i.e. the patient interview, forms an important basis for making the diagnosis. The typical symptoms of an abscess, such as fever, general exhaustion, pain, as well as swelling and redness, are, for example, groundbreaking in diagnostics.

However, if the abscess lies deeper in the tissue, it is often not visible from the outside. Imaging examinations, such as a CT or MRI, can make the abscess visible, for example in the jaw or neck. Ultrasound can also help to identify an abscess. An abscess should not be punctured, as there is a risk that it will break through. A blood sample with determination of the inflammation values, CRP and leukocytes, is also groundbreaking, as these are usually elevated in the case of an abscess.