An abscess is an isolated cavity in which pus has accumulated. It is usually the result or part of a bacterial inflammation. Abscesses can develop anywhere in the body, but are most commonly found under the skin.
Abscesses can also occur in the mouth and on the lips. The typical inflammatory characteristics of an abscess are redness, swelling, an increased temperature of the skin at the affected area and increased sensitivity to pressure and pain. In addition, the pus may be visible in the form of a white spot under the skin.
In principle, one can imagine an abscess as a large pimple: It matures over time and eventually empties to the outside. Most abscesses are painful, but they remain harmless and disappear by themselves. However, for larger abscesses that do not disappear, you should consult a doctor.
Symptoms of an abscess on the lip
An abscess is mainly noticeable by increased sensitivity to pressure and pain in the affected area. It often hurts even without external pressure. In addition, the affected area is swollen and reddened and has a raised temperature.
Often the boil is visible on the outside and can be felt as a hard area or even visible through the skin. Usually the abscess remains localized due to the precautions taken by the body, but it can happen that it spreads through the lymphatic system. In this case the symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and nausea.
In this case a doctor should be consulted, as there is a risk of blood poisoning. The great danger of an abscess on the upper lip lies in the danger of spreading into the skull. This can lead to a life-threatening brain abscess, which is why special caution is required at this point. In a way, abscesses behave like huge pimples – which they actually are. At the beginning they are not yet clearly delimitable, but then they mature and form a clear edge and in the course of the progressive inflammatory reaction an abscess, which usually also becomes clearly palpable towards the end.
Causes of an abscess on the lip
If bacteria (abscesses are usually Staphylococcus aureus) penetrate under the skin and into the body, the immune system fights them with an inflammatory reaction. This means that the affected area swells, turns reddish, has an elevated temperature and is more sensitive to pressure. In addition, white blood cells collect in the focus of the inflammation, which the bacteria eat and then die themselves.
Together with other dead bacteria they are visible as pus. This accumulates in the cavity that is formed when body tissue is melted during the inflammatory reaction. To prevent the pus from entering the surrounding tissue, the body seals the abscess with impermeable tissue. The cause of an abscess under the skin or in the mouth is often a pore blocked by sebum, sweat or dirt, through which the pus cannot flow outwards. In the mouth, abscesses are also caused by small cuts or cracks in the oral mucosa through which bacteria can penetrate.