An abscess is an encapsulated accumulation of pus in tissue caused by local inflammation. Abscesses can form anywhere: In the oral or nasal cavity, in the facial area (An abscess can develop in many different ways. On the surface of the body, bacteria of the normal skin flora, such as the so-called staphylococci, can migrate into deeper skin layers through the smallest injuries and multiply there.
Germs can also penetrate the skin along the hair and find perfect conditions for their growth at the hair roots. If sebum accumulates under blocked skin pores, this also provides a breeding ground for bacteria. A pimple develops, which, through repeated manipulation, can empty itself into the surrounding tissue, where it can lead to greater inflammation and abscess formation.
Causes of an abscess in the genital area
Especially in warm and humid areas of the body with strong hairs and a high density of sebaceous glands, abscesses are preferred. This applies preferably to the anal and intimate regions. In the intimate area, where many germs naturally settle, abscesses occur mainly at the hair roots.
The risk factors that favour the occurrence of abscesses include smoking, lack of personal hygiene, diseases such as diabetes, a weak immune system and skin diseases such as neurodermatitis. Too tight-fitting and abrasive underwear, as well as poorly treated injuries also increase the probability of developing an abscess. In women, the paired so-called Bartholin gland can also be the starting point for the formation of large and extremely painful abscesses in the genital area.
In the case of such bartholinitis, consultation with a gynaecologist and surgical repair are necessary. The smallest skin injuries caused by shaving are a frequent trigger for abscesses in the genital area. Through the damaged skin surface, bacteria get into deeper skin layers and can lead to inflammation and even abscesses.
The triggering bacteria are usually staphylococci, which also colonise the skin surface of healthy people without causing any damage. Only when they overcome the skin surface through small injuries, such as when shaving, can they lead to inflammation and abscesses in the intimate area. Too tight underwear made of non-breathable material, inadequate intimate hygiene, smoking and a weakened immune system (e.g. due to cortisone or diabetes) also promote infection and abscess formation.
In order to minimise the risk of skin incisions when shaving, care should be taken to always use fresh and sharp razor blades. Shaving foams or gels can also make the razor glide more easily over the skin, thus reducing the risk of injury. If a cut is nevertheless made, the wound should at best be disinfected and covered, further manipulation should be avoided.
Symptoms of an abscess in the genital area
A skin abscess, as it also occurs in the genital area, is easy to detect even for the medical layman. It is a reddened, usually slightly raised area which is painful, although the pain increases when slight pressure is applied to the diseased tissue. In the case of locally advanced findings, the skin in the immediate vicinity feels very warm.
Occasionally a white head is visible. Abscesses usually grow slowly, and after rough and improper manipulation more fulminant progressions with rapid increase in size can be observed. An abscess in the genital area is usually accompanied by severe pain, which can make sitting and walking very uncomfortable.
The pain can be throbbing and increases when pressure or touch is applied. They are caused on the one hand by the inflammation in the tissue and on the other hand by the tension caused by the accumulation of pus. Medications such as ibuprofen, Novalgin or aspirin can be taken to relieve the pain, and even a slight cooling can reduce swelling and relieve pain.
A pronounced abscess should also be punctured or cut open, which often provides immediate relief and pain relief. The causes of an abscess in the genital area do not differ significantly between men and women. In both sexes, minor injuries cause the penetration of bacteria (staphylococci), which cause an abscess through capsule formation.
Both sexes also have favourable factors in common, such as smoking, a weakened immune system, diabetes and lack of intimate hygiene. In both men and women, an abscess is noticeable as a circumscribed, pus-filled swelling. The surrounding skin is often overheated, reddened and very painful.
Only the location of the abscess differs between the two sexes. In men, an abscess is often located in the perineal area, the area between the genitals and the anal region. Painful abscesses can also occur in the scrotum or anal region.
In women, on the other hand, an abscess can develop in the area of the labia, especially in the area of the Bartholin gland. The paired Bartholin gland is located at the rear end of the vaginal outlet and can be infected with various bacteria. The result can be a pronounced, very painful abscess. In women, too, an abscess formation in the perineal or anal region is conceivable. The treatment of an abscess in the genital area is basically the same for men and women.