Diagnosis of a leg abscess
An abscess on the leg can usually be recognized because of the conspicuous and clear symptoms. To be sure whether it was caused by bacteria, the doctor can take a smear of the pus. An abscess can also often be detected by a blood test. Then the number of white blood cells is increased and the so-called C-reactive protein is also present in increased amounts (a marker for existing inflammation).
What to do in case of an abscess?
Under no circumstances should the abscess itself be pushed around. Here the danger of the bacteria spreading is very high. If the abscess has opened by itself, a plaster or bandage should be worn over it, as the pus is contagious.
Frequent hand washing is recommended. In the case of an abscess caused by bacteria, it is usually not enough for the doctor to prescribe an antibiotic, because the abscess is encapsulated and the antibiotic cannot fight the bacteria there. In most cases, depending on the size of the abscess, a small or slightly larger operation is necessary.
The doctor opens the abscess with a small incision under local anaesthetic and ensures that the pus can drain away. The inflamed tissue is removed and the wound is cleaned. After the operation, the wound is not closed but left open so that any newly formed pus can drain off directly.
The wound is cleaned regularly and the dressing is changed. If the bacteria have already spread or if there is a risk of spreading, an antibiotic is added to prevent them from spreading throughout the body. There are many home remedies that are generally supposed to help with an abscess.
Low-fat curd cheese is effective against inflammation and can be wrapped in a thin cloth and placed on the abscess. Thyme or tea tree oil can also be put in warm boiled water and applied to the affected area as a compress to relieve the discomfort. To counteract the inflammation, a compress with cooled chamomile or nettle tea can also help. Chopped onions and garlic should also be warmed and wrapped in a cloth. An expressed white cabbage leaf that is warmed also has a soothing effect on the abscess.
The prognosis for a leg abscess
If the abscess was completely removed during the operation, the further course is favourable. The wound has to grow over by itself, this can take several weeks depending on the size. Daily cleaning and dressing changes are very important so that the wound does not become inflamed. However, if the pathogens have already spread and settled in other parts of the body, treatment may take longer.
Complications with an abscess
Especially if an attempt is made to express the abscess itself, it is possible that the abscess will open inwards and the bacteria will enter the blood. This can have serious consequences up to blood poisoning (sepsis) and should therefore be avoided. However, complications can also occur after an operation, for example if the wound is not thoroughly cleaned every day and if it grows over. Then inflammation and an abscess can form again.