An abscess in the face is a collection of pus in a tissue cavity surrounded by a capsule. The penetration of pathogens into small open wounds in the facial area causes inflammatory processes that can lead to the accumulation of pus and the subsequent formation of an abscess. In most cases, the pathogens are staphylococci, certain bacteria involved in normal human skin colonization. In the context of small open spots or injuries on the face, they overcome the skin barrier and trigger inflammatory processes. In the face, an abscess shows up as a distinct swelling accompanied by redness and warming of the skin.
Cause of an abscess in the face
An abscess on the face is usually the result of a bacterial infection. Often bacteria that are part of the normal skin colonization in the facial area are responsible. 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. Men in particular can quickly make small cuts during daily shaving, which serve as a possible entry point for the bacteria.
If they penetrate the skin, the body’s own immune system is activated to fight the pathogens. This leads to an inflammatory reaction of the tissue and pus is formed. The pus consists of bacteria, defence cells and killed cells.
The immune system‘s defensive reactions against the bacteria destroy the surrounding tissue and a cavity is formed in which pus can accumulate. In order to prevent the pus from spreading further into the depths, a capsule is formed which encloses the pus accumulation and shields it from the adjacent tissue. Visually, an abscess can be recognized by a strong and above all pressure-painful swelling of the skin, which is accompanied by a distinct redness, warming and tension of the skin surface.
Many different factors can promote the development of an abscess in the face. Above all, skin that has already been damaged, for example in patients with neurodermatitis, severe acne or even psoriasis, represents a risk of possible entry points for pathogens in the facial area. Also an immune system that is not functioning properly or a weakened immune system, as in patients with cancer or as part of a therapy that suppresses the immune system, for example in the form of cortisone, represents an increased risk of the formation of abscesses in the facial area.
Often an abscess in the face is also caused by an inflammation of the sebaceous or sweat glands. If the pores of the glands are clogged and there is no longer an outlet for the secretion, an inflammation develops and pus develops, which can be accompanied by the formation of abscesses. Since many small hairs grow in the facial area, an inflammation of the hair follicles can also lead to abscess formation.
In most cases, hair follicle inflammation can be recognised by the fact that it looks as if a hair is growing out of the pimple. If an abscess develops in the course of hair follicle inflammation, which spreads to the surrounding tissue, it is called a boil. If several inflamed hair cells are involved in the process, it is called a carbuncle. A further cause for the development of an abscess in the facial area are operations in the eye, mouth or ENT area. If after an operation there is an accumulation of pathogenic germs in the wound, which has been closed without a possible outlet for wound secretion, in the form of a drainage, the pus that forms cannot flow away, accumulates and promotes the development of an abscess.