Abscess or Collection of Pus

Skin | - Others | Abscess or Collection of Pus (Symptom)


An abscess is a collection of pus that has accumulated in a cavity formed by the tissue in which the pus resides due to an infectious process. Some examples of abscesses may include: a skin abscess is better known as a common boil; peritonsillar abscess is a persistent collection of pus behind the tonsils; and a perianal abscess is a pool of pus that forms next to the anus, often causing considerable tenderness and swelling in that area and pain on sitting down and on defecating.

Abscesses must be differentiated from emphysemas, which are accumulations of pus in a pre-existing rather than a newly formed anatomical cavity. An abscess may cause pain, depending on where it occurs. Larger abscesses cause fever, sweating, and malaise. Those close to the skin often cause obvious redness and swelling.

Occasionally, an abscess within a vital organ damages enough surrounding tissue to cause permanent loss of normal function, or even death.


Common bacteria, such as staphylococci, are the usual cause of abscesses, although fungal infections can cause them as well. Amoeba is an important cause of liver abscesses. Infectious organisms usually reach internal organs via the bloodstream, or they penetrate the tissues under the skin through a wound. It is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent the spread of infectious materials to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Antibiotic drugs, antifungal drugs, or amoebic ides are usually prescribed as appropriate. Most abscesses also need to be drained and in some cases a tube may be left in place to allow continuous drainage. Some abscesses burst and drain spontaneously.