Reviewers: Cecilia Rosales, M.D., Baylor College; Mowafak Hamodat MB.CH.B, MSc., FRCPC, Eastern Health, St. Johns (Canada) (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 24 August 2011, last major update July 2011
Copyright: (c) 2002-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.
● Latin: abscessus
● A skin abscess is a localized collection of pus that generally develops in response to infection or to the presence of other foreign materials under the skin; formed by tissue disintegration and surrounded by an inflamed area
● Skin abscesses are often referred to as boils
● Develops in patients of all age groups
● Typically caused by either an inflammatory reaction to an infectious process (bacteria or parasite) or, less commonly, to a foreign substance within the body (a needle or a splinter, for example)
● Abscesses may develop because of obstructed oil (sebaceous) or sweat glands, inflammation of hair follicles, or from minor breaks and punctures of the skin; abscesses may also develop after a surgical procedure
● The most common bacterial organism is Staphylococcus aureus, although various other organisms can also lead to abscess formation
● An abscess is typically painful, and it appears as a swollen area that is warm to the touch
● Hospitalizations for skin abscesses may be increasing (Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2011 May 8 [Epub ahead of print])
● Antibiotics alone will not typically cure a skin abscess
● In general, abscesses must open and drain to improve
● The skin surrounding an abscess typically appears pink or red
● Cavity usually located on the dermis containing inflammatory infiltrate with abundant neutrophils and necrotic debris
● The cavity is usually surrounded by inflammatory infiltrate
● Usually also subepidermal edema
● Extensive leukocytoclasis is seen in older lesions
● Gram positive or negative if bacterial origin
End of Skin-nontumor > Infectious disorders > Abscess
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