Abscess on the neck

General information

An abscess forms on the neck due to an inflammatory process. It represents an encapsulated cavity filled with pus. It is also important for the definition of an abscess that it forms a cavity that did not exist before.

The pus it contains consists of dead cell material, bacteria and the body’s own inflammatory cells. The abscess cavity usually has no connection to a blood vessel, which makes therapy more difficult. In some cases, so-called “sterile” abscesses can occur where no pathogen can be detected.

An abscess on the neck can be life-threatening, depending on its size and location, which is why a doctor should be consulted immediately in case of an inflammatory swelling in the region of the neck. There are many different causes for the development of a neck abscess. Depending on the location, a theory can often be put forward as to what caused the abscess.

In most cases, bacteria such as staphylococci or streptococci can be detected as the trigger in the pus of the abscess. But also other pathogens like the mycobacterium tuberculosis can cause abscesses in the neck region in form of organ tuberculosis. In the past, due to the lack of antibiotics, an abscess of the so-called mastoid process behind the ear was common due to an inadequately treated, and thus not healed, middle ear inflammation, especially in children.

The use of antibiotics for middle ear inflammation has greatly minimized the occurrence of these abscesses on the ear. Another frequent cause for the development of an abscess on the neck are infections, which occur primarily in the mouth and throat area. Thus, infections of the teeth and tooth roots, the base of the tongue, throat or tonsils can form abscesses on the neck.

Such an abscess can sometimes be difficult to detect from the outside, as these are often located in deeper layers. In these cases it is important to visit a doctor quickly to find out about the individual therapy, because in deeper layers of the neck there are also vital structures. Finally, injuries and inflammations on the skin surface can also lead to abscesses of the neck region. Especially when the beard hairs on the neck are shaved, for example by contaminated razor blades, such an inflammation can occur

Symptoms of cervical abscess

General symptoms that occur with most abscesses due to the inflammation are redness and overheating of the affected area around the swelling. In most cases the body region of the abscess is very painful. It can also show pus when the cavity is opened spontaneously.

The pus has a yellowish colour and a fluid consistency. General signs of inflammation such as a pronounced feeling of illness, fever and chills are also common. In addition to the general symptoms, specific symptoms may also occur, depending on the size and location of the abscess.

For example, an abscess can squeeze the windpipe and cause breathing difficulties. Such a complication is an emergency, which requires immediate therapy. The vessels in the neck can also be squeezed by the abscess. The pain can cause difficulties and severe pain when eating and speaking. The pain that occurs in the advanced stage of an abscess is usually perceived as strong and throbbing.