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.
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.
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.
|Centers 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.|
|American 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.|
|American Academy of Dermatology Provides up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair, and nails.|
|American 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.|
|Paronychia Paronychia is an infection of the skin around a fingernail or toenail. Most of the time, it's not serious and can be treated at home. Learn what causes it, what to do, and how to prevent it.|
|A to Z: Abscess, Periapical Learn about complications of infections and conditions that affect the teeth, gums, and mouth.|
|Wound Drainage Culture Doctors order wound drainage cultures when they suspect wounds are infected.|
|Peritonsillar Abscess A peritonsillar abscess is an area of pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth, next to one of the tonsils. Find out how it happens and what to do.|
|Peritonsillar Abscess Older kids and teens with tonsilitis sometimes develop this painful abscess, a pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth.|
|Abscess An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the body. Find out how to spot a skin abscess and when to call the doctor.|
|MRSA MRSA is a type of bacteria that the usual antibiotics can't tackle anymore. Simple precautions can help protect your kids from becoming infected.|
|Abscess An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.|
|Paronychia Paronychia is an infection of the skin around a fingernail or toenail. Most of the time, it's not serious. Find out what causes it, what to do, and how to prevent it.|
|Abscess People can get abscesses on the skin, under the skin, in a tooth, or even inside the body. Most abscesses are caused by infection, so it can help to know what to do. Find out in this article for teens.|
|MRSA MRSA is a type of bacteria that the usual antibiotics can't tackle anymore. The good news is that there are some simple ways to protect yourself from being infected. Find out how.|
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