Malignant abscess

In medical terminology, the term “abscess” refers to an accumulation of pus surrounded by a capsule in non-preformed (non-preformed) body cavities. The causes of an abscess are usually inflammatory processes that lead to a melting of the tissue. In many cases an abscess develops without any obvious external causes.

For example as a result of tissue trauma during surgery, injections, foreign bodies or a general weakening of the immune system. As a rule, bacterial pathogens are directly or at least indirectly involved in the development of the abscess. Staphylococcus aureus is probably the most common bacterial pathogen that leads to the formation of an abscess.

In exceptional cases, abscesses can be observed in which no pathogen can be detected. In this context one speaks of so-called “cold abscesses”. The typical symptoms of an abscess are local swelling, reddening of the surrounding skin, a noticeable overheating and sometimes severe pain.

The therapy in the presence of an abscess consists in most cases of a surgical opening of the pus cavity (synonym: abscess splitting). After the opening of the abscess cavity, the pus in it can flow off unhindered and the affected tissue heals. Already at this point, the pain felt by the patient usually subsides significantly or even disappears completely.

In some cases, a drainage must be created and thus the outflow of pus promoted. Failure to provide appropriate treatment can lead to serious complications. In some cases the abscess empties fistulas.

This means that it can burst into pre-formed (preformed) body cavities or hollow organs. In addition, there is a risk of bacterial pathogens spreading into the bloodstream and resulting in blood poisoning. In such cases antibiotic treatment must be initiated immediately. Furthermore, after a spontaneous opening of an abscess, there is usually severe pain and the development of unsightly scar tissue.

General information

In general, when using ointments to treat an abscess or to alleviate abscess-related complaints, some rules of conduct should be observed. To prevent the spread of the causative bacterial pathogens, an abscess should never be touched with the fingers. Ideally, gloves should be worn when applying an ointment and the hands should be thoroughly washed and disinfected afterwards.

The treatment method of first choice for large abscesses is the surgical opening of the abscess cavity and the removal of the accumulation of pus. In addition, anti-inflammatory strips and analgesic preparations can be introduced into the affected tissue. Patients suffering from an abscess usually feel severe pain.

These can be treated with an analgesic ointment until it is possible to attend a doctor’s appointment. In this context, however, the affected patients should always be aware that the temporary relief of the pain is only mediated by the active ingredients contained in the ointment. As soon as the duration of action of these substances is exceeded, the pain returns with the same intensity or even increases.

For this reason, the application of a local analgesic ointment should only be done to bridge the time until the next possible doctor’s appointment. It is in no way an actual treatment of the abscess. Some of the affected patients also use special ointments that have an antibiotic effect (antibiotic ointment) to treat abscesses.

According to the manufacturer, these ointments should be applied to the skin surface three to four times a day and then absorbed into the abscess cavity. The active substance contained in these ointments is usually an antibiotic directed against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. However, it is questionable to what extent a locally applicable antibiotic ointment can be considered a sensible treatment measure in the presence of an abscess.

On the one hand, it should be considered in this context that Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium which belongs to the physiological skin environment. This means that this bacterium can also be detected on the healthy skin surface and thus fulfils important tasks. The generous application of an antibiotic ointment has the consequence that Staphylococcus aureus is killed on the healthy skin surface and the natural skin environment is negatively affected.

On the other hand it can be assumed that only a small part of the active agent contained in the ointment can actually be absorbed via the skin surface and transported into the abscess cavity. It is doubtful whether this negligible amount is sufficient to treat the abscess effectively. Besides the use of antibiotic ointments, some of the affected patients swear by the use of an ointment that combines analgesic and anti-inflammatory active substances.

With these ointments, too, the individual active substances are supposed to be absorbed by the skin surface after application and then enter the abscess cavity. According to the majority of patients, regular use of such an ointment leads to a noticeable reduction in pain. Nevertheless, even an ointment containing analgesic and anti-inflammatory active ingredients is not a suitable method for treating an abscess.

Furthermore, various ointments are offered which promote the spontaneous opening of an abscess and thus make surgical treatment unnecessary. As a rule, an ointment of this type contains various active ingredients that make the outer wall of the abscess cavity thinner. For this reason, the manufacturers assume that emptying of the pus into the body and/or the bloodstream is rather unlikely.

However, the use of such an ointment should be critically questioned. Especially in large abscess cavities, the accumulation of pus puts enormous pressure on the surrounding tissue. Although a thinning of the outer cave wall increases the probability that the abscess will drain to the outside, a release of the bacterial pathogens into the bloodstream cannot be excluded.

This can result in the development of blood poisoning (sepsis) and damage to various organs. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that a spontaneous opening of the abscess, even if it is directed outwards, leaves unsightly scars in most cases. An abscess is an encapsulated collection of pus in a newly formed tissue cavity, the abscess cavity.

Smaller abscesses can initially be treated conservatively. With ointments, which are available over the counter in pharmacies, the symptoms can be quickly relieved. These ointments are pulling ointments which reduce the inflammation.

OTC ointments include Ilon® ointment, Posterisan akut Salbe 25mg, Ichtholan® ointment or Thrombocid ointment 40mg. If an abscess is noticed early, an ointment can often prevent the entire extent of the inflammation developing with capsule formation. In the pharmacy you can get information and advice about the different over-the-counter ointments.