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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Skin Abscess
      Category : Health Centers > Skin Conditions

Skin Abscess

Alternate Names : Abscess, Furuncle, Carbuncle, Boil

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

An abscess is a collection of pus in or on the skin.

What is going on in the body?

An abscess usually forms in response to a bacteria infection, with Staphylococcus aureus organisms being the most common causes. However, abscesses can also be a response to a foreign body under the skin. The body responds to either the bacteria or the foreign body by sending white blood cells to the area, which forms pus.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Abscesses are generally caused by an infection with Staphylococcus aureus organisms. They may form in response to the following:

  • wounds or injuries to the skin, including surgery
  • a foreign body under the skin, such as a splinter
  • a sebaceous cyst, which is an oil-filled sac under the skin
  • folliculitis, which is inflammation of a hair follicle
  • furuncles, or boils
  • Risk factors for skin abscesses include the following:

  • recent surgery
  • diabetes
  • recent chickenpox infection
  • immunodeficiency disorder, in which the body's infection-fighting mechanisms are impaired. People with AIDS, for example, have a significant risk of skin abscess.
  • impaired circulation, such as peripheral arterial disease, which limits blood flow to the legs and arms
  • chronic use of steroids


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    Skin Abscess: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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