Symptoms | Abscess on the head


The symptoms of a head abscess can vary greatly depending on the type of abscess. In general, abscesses lead to fever, pain and general fatigue. However, depending on the location, specific symptoms may be added, caused by pressure on surrounding tissue.

For example, abscesses located in the throat area cause severe pain when swallowed, swelling of the neck and throat, a torticollis and reduced appetite. Furthermore, a tonsil abscess leads to a characteristic clumsy speech. Abscesses in the brain, on the other hand, express themselves through completely different symptoms.

In most cases, symptoms of a brain abscess tend to develop over a longer period of time. These include headaches, nausea and vomiting, epileptic seizures, fever and paralysis, and drowsiness. A paranasal sinus abscess, for example, can lead to pressure on the orbit and thus to vision problems and double vision. Superficial abscesses of the scalp, on the other hand, lead to local pain, redness and bouncing swellings of the scalp. Fever can also occur.


The treatment of a head abscess depends on the type of abscess. A superficial skin abscess is usually opened and drained with a stab incision. In case of pronounced symptoms, such as fever and nausea, an antibiotic may also be necessary.

However, abscesses that are deeper-seated require special surgical and antibiotic therapy. These include, for example, throat abscesses. These must always be operated and additionally treated with antibiotics.

Such an operation takes place under general anaesthetic. A combined antibiotic therapy of three antibiotics, mostly penicillin, gentamicin and clindamycin, is always used to cover a wide range of pathogens. In cases without complications, an abscess of the tonsils can often only be treated with antibiotics, whereby so-called aminopenicillins with penicillinase inhibitors are used.

This includes, for example, amoxicillin with clavulanic acid. However, if there is no improvement under this antibiotic therapy, an operation must be performed here as well. Brain abscesses always require antibiotic and surgical therapy.

The antibiotic therapy for a brain abscess lasts between 4 and 8 weeks. Initially, a combination of a cephalosporin antibiotic, such as ceftriaxone, with metronidazole and vancomycin is always used. After pathogen identification and testing for resistance, antibiotic therapy is then adjusted. Various surgical procedures are available for surgical treatment depending on the location of the abscess and the general condition of the patient.


An abscess on the head can take different lengths of time. This depends, among other things, on the location of the abscess and the treatment. Abscesses usually develop acutely to subacutely within a few days.

Treatment is then usually attempted with an incision and surgical removal of the abscess. This treatment leads to an immediate removal of the abscess, but in some cases it can be difficult to achieve immediate healing. Sometimes abscesses return, so that a course lasting for weeks is possible.