A to Z: Abscess, Skin

A to Z: Abscess, Skin

A to Z: Abscess, Skin

An abscess (AB-sess) is a collection of pus that forms as part of the body's response to an infection. A skin abscess forms when bacteria get under the skin.

More to Know

A skin abscess happens when the body tries to fight off an infection. The immune system sends white blood cells, which collect around the infected area and cause a buildup of pus. Skin abscesses are commonly treated by draining the pus from the infected area.

Keep in Mind

An abscess usually will not get better until the pus drains out. Sometimes you can help this happen naturally by using warm compresses or soaks and antibiotics. Other times, a doctor drains the pus and might have a sample tested to identify which bacteria caused the infection. After draining the abscess, the doctor might clean the area and cover it with gauze or a bandage. Some abscesses do not require antibiotic treatment after drainage; others are treated with both drainage and antibiotic medication.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Dermatology Provides up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair, and nails.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
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