Abscesses are tender masses that are surrounded by pinkish or reddish colored areas. Abscess centers are full of debris and pus. They are generally painful to the touch and can show up anywhere on the body. They are most commonly found in the armpit, around the vagina, anus, groin, spine base, or near a tooth.
Abscesses are caused by inflamed hair follicles, obstruction of sweat glands or oil glands, or small breaks in the skin. Germs find their way under the skin and produce an inflammatory response as the body tries to kill the germs. The center of the abscess collects debris, bacteria and dead cells, and the area begins to grow, creating more inflammation, which causes the pain you feel when you press down on it.
Those with weaker immune systems are at a much higher risk of getting abscesses. People with ailments such as sickle cell disease, Leukemia, peripheral vascular disorders, diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease, AIDS and ulcerative colitis are all at a much higher risk of getting persistent, severe abscesses.
There are several ways to treat an abscess. Warm compresses (left on for half an hour, four times a day) are good at helping smaller abscesses. If your abscess is large and stubborn, you might have to have it opened and drained by a doctor (this process will remove all of the debris and pus that was causing the inflammation and pain).
How do you know exactly if what you have is an abscess? If you feel the offending bump, it should be warm to the touch. It should also produce a sensation of pain when you press down on it. Also, they should have a reddish to pinking surrounding color. Bigger abscesses might even come with chills, fever and excessive sweating.
There are several easy precautions you can take to try to avoid getting abscesses. It is important to keep up your personal hygiene and wash thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis. This will lessen the chances of an abscess occurring. Also, when shaving the body, it’s a good idea to be extra careful not to cut or nick yourself by accident.