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Abscesses

Related Terms

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Background

  • An abscess is a collection of pus in any part of the body that is surrounded by swelling and inflammation. An abscess may develop, enlarge, or subside, depending upon the degree of infection by microorganisms, such as bacteria. Abscesses may develop in any organ and in the soft tissues beneath the skin in any area.
  • Common sites of abscesses include the breasts, gums, and peri-rectal area. Less common sites include the brain and liver. Common sites for abscesses under the skin include the armpit and the groin. These two areas have a large number of lymph glands, which are responsible for fighting infection.
  • Boil: A boil, also referred to as a skin abscess, is a localized infection deep in the skin. A boil generally starts as a reddened, tender area. Over time, the area becomes firm and hard. Eventually, the center of the abscess softens and becomes filled with infection-fighting white blood cells that the body sends from the blood stream to stop the infection. This collection of white blood cells, bacteria, and proteins is known as pus. Finally, the pus forms a head, which can be drained out through the surface of the skin using pressure or surgical methods. Most boils run their course within four to ten days.
  • Furuncle or carbuncle: Furuncles or carbuncles are abscesses in the skin caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. A furuncle can have one or more openings onto the skin and may be associated with a fever or chills.
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Risk Factors and Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.