Skin Abscess

By Julie Wiekamp, MPAS, PA-C

A skin abscess is a pocket of infection that lies just below the skin’s surface. It is often caused by a break in the skin where bacteria enter and start to grow. Abscesses initially look much like a pimple, but will enlarge rapidly. They are often very tender and reddened. If left unchecked, they often cause fevers and the adjacent skin to become infected as well. Skin abscesses are best treated in the clinic and often require incision, drainage, packing, wound cultures and antibiotic therapy.

Abscesses are very contagious, and the infection is easily passed from one individual to the next. As with any skin infection, good hand washing is a must and it is best to try and cover the infected area to prevent the spread of drainage and bacteria. Thoroughly cleaning tubs, showers, sheets and clothing is a must. To prevent a skin infection, make sure to clean off gym equipment before use, especially exercise mats!