An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms within body tissues due to an infection. Abscesses can form in nearly any part of the body, but when they form on the skin, they are often referred to as skin abscesses or boils.

The condition usually begins when bacteria enter a wound or hair follicle, causing infection. The immune system responds by sending white blood cells to the affected area, which results in pus formation.

A skin abscess often appears as a swollen, painful lump under the skin that is warm or hot to the touch. It might be red and may be filled with yellow or green pus. If it becomes large enough, it may cause discomfort or pain, and it may need to be drained to relieve these symptoms.

Skin Abscess

Treatment usually involves draining the abscess, often paired with antibiotics to treat the infection. It’s important not to attempt to drain a skin abscess or boil at home, as this can lead to further infection or scarring. Always consult a healthcare professional.

Causes of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Skin abscess or boil is primarily caused by a bacterial infection that enters the skin through a hair follicle or a minor cut. The most common bacteria responsible is Staphylococcus aureus, a type that is often present on the skin or in the nose without causing harm but can cause trouble if it gets deeper into the skin.

Several factors can contribute to the development of skin abscesses/boils. These include:

1. Weakened Immune System: People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to bacterial infections, including skin abscesses.

2. Poor Hygiene: Not washing regularly or thoroughly can increase your chance of developing skin abscesses.

3. Close Contact: Skin abscesses can be contagious, so being in close contact with someone who has a boil can expose you to the bacteria causing the infection.

4. Other Skin Conditions: Conditions like acne or eczema can make the skin more susceptible to bacterial infections.

5. Exposure to Harsh Chemicals: Certain chemicals can irritate the skin, making it more likely that bacteria will penetrate the surface and create an abscess.

Once an abscess forms, the body’s defense mechanism springs into action. White blood cells are sent to combat the infection. This leads to inflammation and swelling, and forms pus. The pus is a combination of dead skin cells, bacteria, and white blood cells.

In most cases, an abscess will need to be drained by a healthcare professional. Depending on the severity, antibiotics may also be prescribed to help combat the infection.

It’s worth noting that people with certain conditions, such as diabetes, or who use intravenous drugs are at greater risk of developing abscesses.
If you suspect a skin abscess, it’s important to seek medical attention in order to prevent the infection from spreading.

Risk Factors of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Skin abscesses, also known as boils, are often caused by bacteria infecting a hair follicle or a minor skin injury. Here are some risk factors associated with them:

1. Poor personal hygiene: Lack of cleanliness can increase the chances of bacterial infection and therefore can cause skin abscesses.

2. Close contact with an infected person: Skin abscesses are often contagious, and you can acquire them through direct physical contact with a person having a skin abscess.

3. Weakened immune system: Individuals with a weakened immune system (caused by conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, cancer treatment etc.) are more vulnerable to bacterial infections and consequently to developing skin abscesses.

4. Skin conditions: People with certain skin conditions like acne or eczema have a higher risk since these conditions can weaken the skin’s protective barrier.

5. Intravenous drug use: Using certain illegal drugs through needles can put individuals at a risk of developing skin abscesses.

6. Obesity: Certain studies have found a link between obesity and the development of skin abscesses, possibly due to the occurrence of friction and sweat in skin folds.

7. Previous history: Having a previous history of skin abscesses increases your risk of developing future ones.

8. Exposure to unhealthy environments: Environments filled with bacteria (like health care settings, communal showers etc.) or occupations that cause minor skin cuts or abrasions can also lead to skin abscesses.

It is vital to maintain good personal hygiene, promptly clean and protect any skin wounds, and take steps to boost your immune system to reduce the risk of developing skin abscesses. Consult with a healthcare provider for professional medical advice.

Signs and Symptoms of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

A skin abscess or a boil is a localized infection in the skin that generally starts as a reddened, tender area that over time, becomes hardened and firm. The center of the abscess, which is filled with bacteria, dead cells, and other debris, may become soft as it fills with pus. Here are the common signs and symptoms:

1. Red, swollen, warm, and painful area of skin: The skin surrounding the abscess often appears pink or red. You might also notice swelling in the area.

2. A visible build-up of white or yellow pus under the skin in the affected area: This is usually in the center of the infection.

3. The size of the abscess could range from pea-sized to as large as a golf ball.

4. You might feel unwell, with a high temperature and chills.

5. Over time, the abscess may rupture and release pus.

6. In severe cases, the infection can cause fever and also swollen lymph nodes if the infection is spreading.

7. You might also notice a crusty residue on the skin surrounding the abscess after the pus drains.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help. A healthcare professional can safely drain an abscess and treat the infection. It’s critical not to try to puncture or drain the abscess by yourself to avoid spreading the infection.

Diagnosis Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Skin abscesses, also known as boils, are a buildup of pus within the deeper layers of the skin. This typically results from an infection, which can occur when bacteria enter the skin through a hair follicle or through a small break in the skin.

The area affected by the abscess will usually be red, warm, swollen, and sensitive to touch. A visible lump may also be present, often filled with pus, which gives it a yellow or white appearance.

Boils can vary in size, from pea-sized to as large as a golf ball. Small boils may resolve on their own with minor treatment, while larger boils may need to be drained by a healthcare professional. Treatment often includes antibiotics and, in severe cases, surgical drainage.

Risk factors for developing boils include close contact with a person who has a staph infection, a weakened immune system, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, or chronic diseases like diabetes that affect the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

If a boil does not begin to improve after a week of at-home treatment, it may need to be checked by a healthcare professional. Complications can arise if the infection spreads, such as the development of sepsis which is a severe body-wide response to infection, or the formation of multiple boils (known as a carbuncle). In general, maintaining good hygiene and promptly attending to any cuts or injuries can help prevent the formation of boils.

Treatment of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Boils or skin abscesses are deep infections of the skin that start in the oil gland or a hair follicle. They are commonly caused by bacteria. Here is a brief rundown of the options available for treating skin abscesses or boils:

1. Home Care:
In the early stages, you can apply a warm compress to the area, which can help bring the abscess to a head, but do not try to puncture or squeeze it yourself, this can lead to a deeper infection.

2. Medical Treatments:
If the abscess doesn’t improve with home treatments, professional medical treatment may be needed. This usually involves:

Incision and drainage: The doctor will make a small cut in the abscess, allowing the pus to drain out, and then clean it with a saline solution. This is the most common treatment for abscesses.

Antibiotics: If the infection is severe or has spread to other areas, antibiotics may be prescribed. Antibiotics are also used if you have a weakened immune system or recurring boils or abscesses.

3. Lifestyle Changes:
Maintaining personal hygiene and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent the formation of skin abscesses. This includes not sharing personal items, like towels or razor blades, keeping wounds clean and covered until healed, washing hands frequently, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Remember, it’s critical to seek a healthcare provider’s advice before beginning any treatment plan for boils or skin abscesses. Improper treatment could lead to more serious complications, such as sepsis.

Medications commonly used for Abscesses Skin (Boils)

1. Antibiotics: Antibiotics are often the first line of treatment for skin abscesses. Depending on the severity and the bacterium causing the infection, different antibiotics may be prescribed. Commonly used ones include Dicloxacillin, Cephalexin, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and Doxycycline.

2. Topical Antiseptics: Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments like chlorhexidine can help to cleanse the skin around the abscess. These usually aren’t used to treat the abscess itself, but can help prevent other skin infections.

3. Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can be used to decrease pain and inflammation.

4. Warm Compresses: Applying a warm compress to the area can help bring the abscess to a head and promote drainage. This isn’t a medication, but it’s a common part of treatment.

Skin Abscess

In severe cases, abscesses may need to be drained by a healthcare professional. This is often done under local anesthesia, using a needle and syringe. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice about abscess treatment.

Prevention of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Prevention of abscesses or skin boils involves keeping the skin clean, practicing good hygiene, and preventing the spread of infections. Here are some preventive measures that you can take:

1. Cleanliness: Always keep your skin clean to prevent bacteria from entering your body. Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after touching animals or unclean surfaces.

2. Avoid close contact: If a person has an abscess or boil, avoid close contact until it’s healed, to prevent the spread of the infection.

3. Use antibacterial soaps: Regularly use antibacterial soap for bathing and washing hands helps to kill bacteria on the skin.

4. Habit of Healthy Eating: A balanced diet keeps your immune system in good shape and helps your body fight off infections.

5. Wound Care: If you have a cut or scrape, clean it immediately and apply an antibacterial ointment. Cover it up with a bandage to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and causing an infection.

6. Regular Exercise: Regular exercise helps to enhance your body immunity and effectively fight against bacteria causing boils.

7. Personal hygiene: Do not share personal items like towels, razors, clothing, and bedding.

8. Hydrate: Drink enough water daily to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

9. Don’t Pop or Squeeze: Do not try popping or squeezing a boil, you may push the infection deeper into the skin leading to more boils.

Remember, anyone can get a boil. While they can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, they are very preventable with proper hygiene and care. If a boil doesn’t heal or starts showing signs of a more significant infection (like increased pain, redness, swelling, or fever), a healthcare provider should be consulted.

FAQ’s about Abscesses Skin (Boils)

1. What is a skin abscess (boil)?
A skin abscess, also known as a boil, is a swollen, red, painful lump under the surface or on the skin that is generally filled with pus. It occurs when a skin bacterial infection causes a pocket of pus to collect in one area.

2. What causes a skin abscess?
Skin abscesses are usually caused by a bacterial infection. The most common bacteria responsible for this are the staph bacteria. Cuts, scrapes, or breaks in the skin can provide an entry point for these bacteria.

3. Who is more likely to get skin abscesses?
Although anyone can develop a skin abscess, individuals with weakened immune systems, diabetes, poor hygiene, or certain skin conditions like acne are more susceptible. Also, those who have close contact with a person who has a skin abscess are at higher risk.

4. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include the presence of a painful, red lump that may have a white or yellow center, warmth over the affected area, and potentially fever or chills if the infection spreads further.

5. How are skin abscesses diagnosed?
Doctors generally diagnose a skin abscess by physically examining the skin. If deep abscesses or those in internal organs are suspected, scans like an ultrasound, MRI, or CT may be recommended.

6. What is the treatment?
Treatment usually involves draining the abscess to remove the pus. Depending on the size and location of the abscess, this may be done with a needle and syringe or through a small incision. Antibiotics can be prescribed to combat the infection, especially if it has spread or is particularly severe.

7. Can skin abscesses be prevented?
Maintaining good hygiene can help prevent skin abscesses. Steps include regular hand washing, avoiding the sharing of personal items like razors or towels, keeping cuts clean and covered until they heal, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to support your immune system.

8. Are skin abscesses contagious?
The bacteria that cause abscesses can be spread through contact, so it’s important to avoid sharing personal items with an infected person and to wash your hands regularly. However, the abscess itself is not contagious.

Remember to consult a medical professional if you suspect that you have a skin abscess for proper diagnosis and treatment. These FAQ’s provide general information and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Useful links

An abscessed skin, commonly known as a boil, is a deep infection of the skin that begins in an oil gland or hair follicle. Here are some useful links from journals about abscesses skin (boils):


Please note, while these articles provide information on abscessed skin (boils), their treatment, and associated problems, they are more suited for medical practitioners and researchers. If you are looking for more general information or experiencing a medical issue, you should consult with a healthcare professional.

Information provided through these links is not meant to replace medical advice.

Complications of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Abscesses or boils are pockets of pus that form when the body tries to fight off an infection. These pus-filled lumps can occur anywhere on the skin, but they are commonly found on the face, throat, armpits, buttocks, and thighs. Here are some complications that can arise from skin abscesses or boils:

1. Recurrence: One of the most common complications is the recurrence of abscesses or boils. Some individuals are more prone to this, especially if they have a compromised immune system.

2. Scarring: Depending on the size and location of the abscess or boil, it can lead to scarring on the skin. This is due to the body’s inflammatory response and the healing process.

3. Infection Spreading: If not adequately drained or if burst prematurely, the pus within an abscess or boil can spread the infection to nearby tissues, or even into the bloodstream leading to sepsis, which could be life-threatening.

4. Abscess in Other Body Parts: Sometimes, skin abscesses can lead to the formation of abscesses in other parts of the body. This is a result of the bacteria breaking away from the initial abscess and traveling through the bloodstream to other areas of the body.

5. Immune system disruption: For people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or those receiving chemotherapy treatment, any infection including that from abscesses or boils can be harder to treat and may result in severe complications.

6. Complications in Pre-existing Conditions: For individuals with pre-existing conditions like diabetes or kidney disease, skin abscesses could worsen their health condition.

Anyone with a suspected abscess should seek medical attention to avoid these potential complications. Treatment usually involves drainage of the abscess and antibiotics to clear the infection.

Home remedies of Abscesses Skin (Boils)

Abscesses skin, commonly known as boils, are painful, pus-filled bumps that form under your skin when bacteria infect and inflame one or more of your hair follicles. Although it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional when dealing with skin infections, there are some remedies you can try at home to help alleviate the symptoms.

1. Warm Compress: This is the most recommended and safest home remedy. Apply a warm cloth or a heating pad to the area for about 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This can help the boil to open and drain on its own.

2. Turmeric: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties have been known to help relieve inflammation. You can try drinking turmeric in warm water or milk, or making a paste with turmeric and water and applying it to the boil.

3. Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antiseptic properties, tea tree oil can help with the healing process of the boil. Apply a small amount directly to the boil, using a cotton swab. However, it’s recommended to do a patch test first because tea tree oil can be harsh on the skin and cause irritation.

4. Castor Oil: Castor oil has ricinoleic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory. It can be applied directly to the boil.

5. Neem Leaves: Neem leaves are known for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Create a paste by grinding neem leaves and apply it to the infected area.

6. Epsom Salt: You can use Epsom salt by adding it to warm water and then soaking a compress in the solution. Apply it to the boil for about 20 minutes. Epsom salt can help to draw out the pus and reduce pain.

Remember it’s important not to pop or squeeze a boil, as it can spread the infection and make it worse. And if the boil doesn’t improve within two weeks, or is accompanying by other symptoms such as fever, you should seek medical attention as this could be a sign of a more serious infection.

Categorized in:

Skin Care,

Last Update: January 6, 2024