Diagnostics | Abscess


Since an abscess often causes pain, it usually leads the person affected to a doctor quickly. The doctor can easily recognise an abscess and distinguish it from similar skin conditions. The first and probably most important indication for the diagnosis of an abscess on the skin are the clinical symptoms described above.

Since an abscess is always accompanied by a distinct redness, it is therefore different from pimples or furuncles. A further important differentiation from boils is that these always occur at hair roots and can therefore be easily distinguished by a physician. Furthermore, an abscess is often accompanied by pain and possibly also fever.

Another essential part of abscess diagnostics is a blood test. In the laboratory an increase in inflammation values (the C-reactive protein = CRP and white blood cells = leukocytes) can be detected. In some cases it is also advisable to take a smear from the affected skin area to find the pathogen present so that a targeted therapy can be initiated if necessary.

Also in imaging procedures: the abscess cavity can be visualized. Last but not least, by puncturing the abscess, the accumulation of pus becomes visible, which shows typical pathogens in the microbiological laboratory. – Ultrasound

  • Computer tomography
  • MRI

Localization of an abscess

In principle, abscesses can occur anywhere, but they are usually most frequently found under or in the skin, as the skin is often confronted with pathogens. Abscesses can also form in the armpit. The clinical picture, medically mostly called axillary abscess, is a mostly painful inflammation in the armpit area.

There are various causes for the development of an abscess at this site. In many cases the abscess is preceded by an inflammation of the sweat glands. But an infection of the lymph nodes can also lead to such an abscess.

An abscess in the armpit usually becomes noticeable by a palpable and visible swelling under the skin. Large abscesses can lead to motor limitations of the arm on the affected side. Especially lifting the arm can sometimes only be done with pain.

Depending on the individual course of the disease, an abscess in the armpit can be treated conservatively with antibiotic drugs and pulling ointments or surgically by clearing out the pus under the skin. In general, the prognosis for an abscess in the armpit is very good, provided that a diagnosis is made quickly and then an individually appropriate therapy is initiated. A breast abscess is a painful complication of an inflammation of the breast (mastitis).

As with inflammation of the breast, the causative pathogen is usually Staphylococcus aureus, which is usually transmitted from the child to the mother during breastfeeding. In addition to the typical signs of inflammation that occur in the context of a breast abscess, such as weakness, redness, fever and pain, an abscess also causes noticeable swelling in the area of the breast. It can also happen that lifting the arm on the affected side is only possible with pain.

If a breast abscess is suspected, a specialist in gynaecology should be consulted for rapid clarification. In addition to conservative therapy, in which antibiotic drugs are used, a breast abscess can also be treated surgically. Overall, breast abscesses have a good prognosis.

Especially if an adequate therapy is carried out promptly, a quick and complete healing can be expected. An abscess in the groin region can occur for various reasons. For example, an abscess can occur due to an inflammation of the hair root or a discharge disorder of a sebaceous gland.

A so-called prolapsed abscess can also occur. Such an abscess is an abscess that primarily originated in the area of the spine and only secondarily migrated along a muscle into the pelvis or groin area. An abscess in the groin can lead to movement restrictions in the hip and pain in the affected area.

There may also be visible swelling, redness and overheating of the region. The individual therapy depends on the cause and size of the abscess. An abscess in the groin should always be clarified by a doctor.

A targeted antibiotic therapy against the causative pathogen can be carried out with medication. A surgical removal of the abscess is also possible and in many cases necessary. When removing the abscess, the removal of the primary abscess must also be considered.

Abscesses that occur in the throat in the area of the tonsils are usually so-called peritonsillar abscesses. These can occur as a complication of tonsillitis. As with tonsillitis itself, streptococci are usually the cause of the abscess.

In rare cases, such an abscess can also develop as a result of a tonsillectomy. Especially if the tonsils have not been completely removed, an abscess easily develops. In addition to symptoms that can be explained by the bacterial infection, such as a weakened general condition and fever, an abscess in the area of the tonsils can also cause difficulty swallowing and visible redness in the throat area.

Depending on the size of the abscess, speaking can also be difficult for the person affected. If the treating physician has diagnosed such an abscess, therapy should be initiated immediately. Usually a targeted antibiotic therapy is started.

In addition, the abscess is opened to drain the pus that is found there. In order to prevent repeated abscesses, the removal of the tonsils should be considered. An abscess can also occur in the oral area, such as on the teeth.

More precisely, the abscess occurs in the area of the root of the tooth. The abscess is usually caused by bacteria. Thus, in most cases, in addition to the abscess, there is an advanced caries finding or other bacterial inflammation of the tooth or gums.

A dental abscess becomes noticeable by severe toothache. It can also cause the affected tooth to become loose. At the same time, swellings can occur, which are also visible from the outside.

Since it is a bacterial infection, fever can also occur. The treatment of the abscess depends on the progression of the disease. The primary therapy is carried out with antibiotics.

In many cases, even a targeted antibiotic therapy can lead to a healing of the tooth. In order to prevent a second abscess, it may be necessary to perform a root canal treatment to restore the tooth. In case of an advanced abscess with destruction of the tooth and in severe cases even of the adjacent bone, a complete removal of the tooth may be necessary.

Abscesses can also form on the leg. More men than women are affected by this, as strong leg hair combined with mechanical stress (rubbing of the trousers) favours the development of an abscess. Abscesses on the face can occur in men, for example, due to injuries caused by shaving.

Often bacteria are responsible, which belong to the normal skin colonization in the facial area. In addition to the so-called streptococci, these include above all a certain subgroup of staphylococci, the so-called Staphylococcus aureus. Small injuries or abrasions of the skin in the face are a possible entry point for the pathogens that cause the disease.

These small skin irritations can occur very quickly, especially on the face. However, previous inflammations, such as an inflammation of the auditory canal, can also lead to an abscess, in this case an abscess in the ear. – Abscess on the forehead

  • Abscess on the cheek