Should I burst my abscessed tooth?

Treating abscesses: when do you have to see a doctor?

In the case of an abscess on the skin or elsewhere, hands off, wait and see, if in doubt, see a doctor. Because the boil is not always harmless.

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You can also treat smaller abscesses yourself. But pushing around or piercing is taboo.

At first glance, it looks like a pimple on the skin. Just that the area in question is swollen and reddened. In addition, it thumps and is sensitive to pressure - an abscess, an accumulation of pus in the tissue. In the worst case, this is life-threatening.

Where can abscesses form?

The size can range from a diameter of a few millimeters to the size of an apple. But abscesses do not only occur on the skin. "They can form anywhere in the body," says Prof. Thomas Löscher from the Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. This can be in the armpits, in the pubic hair area or in the mouth, but also in internal organs such as the liver.

How dangerous is an abscess?

Abscesses on the skin are the most common and can be harmless, but definitely not elsewhere. If pathogens from the accumulation of pus in the tissue spread into the body, then in the worst case there is a risk of life-threatening blood poisoning.

What are the causes of the boils?

“An abscess is usually based on a bacterial infection,” explains Löscher. The bacteria enter the body through an insect bite, a skin injury when shaving or an insufficiently cared for wound - for example after a surgical procedure. "Normally, such germs are fought by the immune system," explains physician and alternative practitioner Thomas Sokollik from Kreuztal.

What is an abscess?

However, if the immune system is weakened, then it is also unable to fight the bacteria. This can lead to an accumulation of pus. If it is encapsulated by the tissue like a cavity, it is an abscess. However: "The development of abscesses is not always caused by pathogens," says Löscher. It can also be triggered by inflammation caused by injuries, foreign bodies or processes in the immune system.

When should you wait and when should you go to the doctor?

"Small abscesses on the skin often heal on their own within two to three days," says Sokollik. A doctor or alternative practitioner then does not need to be consulted. "However, if symptoms such as fever or chills occur in addition to the accumulation of pus, the clinical picture must be examined in a practice or in a clinic," emphasizes Löscher. All alarm bells should ring if those affected notice a reddish stripe on the skin starting from the abscess: In the worst case, this is a sign of blood poisoning.

What are the physical signs of an abscess?

Accumulations of pus in internal organs are often not noticeable at first, but only when the abscess breaks into body cavities or hollow organs. Or when it spreads through the bloodstream and the pathogens spread throughout the body. Then fatigue, fever and general malaise can be indications of an infection and you have to see a doctor as soon as possible. "Permanent damage to the affected organ often cannot be ruled out," explains Löscher. If you have an abscess in the jaw area, you have to go to the dentist.

Can you treat minor abscesses on the skin yourself?

Yes. The top rule here, however, is: Under no circumstances press the abscess or puncture it. "Otherwise there is a risk that pus and bacteria will spread and the abscess will get even bigger," says Sokollik. Smaller abscesses mature, burst and often empty themselves. "Then the wound crater has to be disinfected and, if necessary, protected with a plaster," explains pharmacist Ursula Sellerberg. She is deputy press spokesperson at the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA) in Berlin. In some cases, a small lump is left under the skin.

What if the abscess doesn't empty on its own?

"Then a doctor should open it through an incision," says Löscher. The prerequisite is that the abscess is “ripe”. This maturation can be promoted by moist, warm compresses. A mature abscess can be recognized by the fact that the focus of inflammation contracts. It then looks harder and plumper. In addition to an intervention, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics to prevent the bacterial infection and its further spread.

Are there over-the-counter drugs for abscesses?

Yes. "These are so-called train ointments," explains Sokollik. They can help to mature the abscess faster. "If possible, they should only be used for bridging purposes and after consulting a doctor," advises Sellerberg. The pull ointment is applied to the skin once a day and then covered with a bandage.

How can you prevent abscesses?

Basic rule: always pay attention to hygiene. Wounds should be thoroughly disinfected to prevent pus from building up. Clothing that cuts or rubs too deeply into the skin can also lead to abscess formation. "If someone has abscesses more often, the cause should be carefully investigated," explains Löscher. Because this can be a sign of diabetes.

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Source: dpa

| Updated: Tuesday November 28, 2017 3:50 PM

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