An abscess is a collection of pus in any part of the body that, in most cases, causes swelling and inflammation around it.

What are the symptoms of Abscess?

Symptoms of an abscess depend largely on where the abscess forms. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain at the site of the abscess
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Decreased function in the affected part of the body
  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
  • Headache
  • Local swelling, hardening of tissue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sensation in the affected area
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling

What causes Abscess?

Abscesses occur when an area of tissue becomes infected and the body’s immune system tries to fight it. White blood cells move through the walls of the blood vessels into the area of the infection and collect within the damaged tissue. During this process, pus forms. Pus is the buildup of fluid, living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue, and bacteria or other foreign substances. Abscesses can form in almost any part of the body. The skin, under the skin, and the teeth are the most common sites. Abscesses may be caused by bacteria, parasites, and foreign substances.Abscesses in the skin are easy to see. They are red, raised, and painful. Abscesses in other areas of the body may not be obvious, but they may cause significant organ damage. Some specific type of abscesses are:

  • Abdominal abscess
  • Amebic liver abscess
  • Anorectal abscess
  • Bartholin’s abscess
  • Brain abscess
  • Epidural abscess
  • Peritonsillar abscess
  • Pyogenic liver abscess
  • Skin abscess
  • Spinal cord abscess
  • Subcutaneous abscess
  • Tooth abscess

Who is at highest risk?

People with recent history of infection are at increased risk for abscess.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if you think that you may have any type of abscess.


Often, a sample of fluid will be taken from the abscess and tested to see what organism is causing the problem.

Treatment options

Treatment varies, but often surgery, antibiotics, or both are needed.

Where to find medical care for Abscess?

Ask our experts on Abscess

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

The prognosis depends on site of infection, type of organisms causing it and the patient profile(age, immunity status, comorbidities)

Possible complications

It can spread to other parts of body through blood(septicemia)




This article incorporates public domain material from Wikidoc and MedlinePlus. Please see licenses for further details.

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