Going To An Emergency Room For Skin Infections And Abscesses
Skin abscess develops as a response to infection or presence of another foreign material under your skin. The abscess will be characterized by a collection of pus in the affected area, especially on the skin surface. Abscesses can also be formed due to inflammations surrounding the sweat glands or the hair follicles.
Another common cause of skin abscess is a weakened immune system. This can be due to medications or a chronic disease. This happens because the ability of the body to fight infections is reduced. Here are a few risk factors that can cause the development of one or more abscess or even cause recurrent abscesses.
- Chronic steroid therapy
- Dialysis for kidney failure
- Sickle cell anemia
- Crohns disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Severe burns or trauma
- Intravenous IV drug use
- Ulcerative colitis
- Skin injections due to tattoos, medical procedures, or prescription drugs
The infectious or foreign material in your body is the one that triggers an inflammatory response that leads the body immune system to form a capsule or cavity to contain the infection and prevent it spreading to other body areas. The inside of the abscess liquefies and what results is pus that is made of dead cells, bacteria, proteins, and other debris. The area will start to expand and you will feel some tension and observe inflammation on the overlying skin.
An abscess can be found on any part of your organs including liver, kidney, teeth, neck, face, and intra-abdominal area among others.
Many people confuse an abscess with a cyst. While both will be filled by fluids and will have a lumpy appearance, the abscess will be infected while a cyst is not infected. Nevertheless, a cyst can become infected and become an abscess.
Medical Care For Skin Abscess And Other Skin Infections
Antibiotics are often used to cure a cyst but an abscess will require more than antibiotics. The abscess must open up and drain to heal.
A skin abscess will often rupture and drain on its own without any complications. This is a good thing because once the pus is released the abscess will most likely heal on its own. However, in some instances, you will need to visit a doctor for an evaluation to prevent complications that might be caused by the spread of the infection. Consult a doctor in case of the symptoms below.
- If the infected part is bigger than 1 cm or bigger than ½ inch across
- The sore does not heal but continues to enlarge and becomes more painful
- You have an underlying medical problem such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions mentioned above.
- If you are on steroid therapy, chemotherapy or other drugs that suppress your immunity
- If the patient is an IV drug user
- If the abscess is found on the buttock crease, near the rectal or groin area
- If there is a foreign body visible within the wound
- If you have a fever of 100.4 F or higher
- In case, the patient is pregnant
- If the sore heals but then returns.
When Should I Seek Emergency Care?
If the abscess does not heal on its own, a health care provider might need to lance and drain it for it to heal. Other abscesses will require surgical drainage procedures performed in the emergency room.
If the abscess is left without care and proper incision and drainage, it will worsen. The infection can spread to the bloodstream and even to deeper tissues. Once the infection spreads, the patient will suffer from fever, vomiting, and nausea. They will also notice increased pain and redness in the area of infection.
Visit the ER if you notice the symptoms below:
- If the patient has a fever of 102 F or higher
- If the fever is accompanied by vomiting and more so if the person has a chronic disease or is on steroids, chemotherapy or other immune-suppressing medications
- There is a visible red streak on the skin from the abscess, which signifies the spreading of the infection
- If the patient is suffering from a facial abscess that is larger than 1 cm or larger than 1.2 inch across
- In case, the person has a black or dead skin around the abscess
- Severe pain that does not respond to over the counter pain medications
- Weakness, dizziness, trouble walking or loss of use of the limb or another body part
- Persistent bleeding from the infected area
Why Visit Frontline ER
If you are concerned about any abscess or skin infection in your body, visit Frontline ER. We are located in Richmond and Dallas Texas. Our board-certified doctors have emergency care experience and they will look at your condition and offer the best care. Open 24/7 we function just like a hospital emergency room only that we have no waiting time.
We also offer care in the most caring and friendly manner. If you are worried about emergency care cost, do not be. We accept commercial insurance and we offer private payment arrangements to ensure you do not miss the care you need.