Abscess and Cellulitis Treatment Questions and Answers
Do you know the difference between abscess and cellulitis? Talk to our team of leading healthcare professionals today at Express Healthcare, LLC, Urgent Care Clinic. Call us today or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations in College Park MD, New Carrollton MD, Falls Church VA, and Berwyn Height, MD to serve you.
Table of Contents:
What is the difference between an abscess and cellulitis?
What does a cellulitis abscess look like?
What triggers cellulitis?
How do you know if an abscess has spread?
An abscess is caused by tissue destruction that creates a swollen cavity or pocket on the body, most often as the result of an infection. The abscess is surrounded by inflamed tissue, with the abscess itself being filled with pus and can look like it is going to ooze or erupt with the fluid contained inside of it. Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection and is an inflammation of the connective or subcutaneous tissue without the pocket of pus that identifies an abscess. It can initially appear through red, swollen skin that can feel tender and hot to the touch that can quickly spread. Abscesses and cellulitis can coexist on a person’s body, in the same area, at the same time with the distinction that an abscess will have a soft, fluid feel to it due to the pus inside of it and cellulitis will have a harder feeling to it as a condition that affects the skin on a surface level, although it can also affect the tissues below the skin’s surface. Cellulitis can spread to the bloodstream and lymph nodes and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
A cellulitis abscess forms as the result of infectious matter trapped underneath the skin that is unable to drain, which causes the formation of a palpable lump on the skin. It is the result of cellulitis that has been untreated or poorly cared for. If left untreated long enough, the lump will eventually erupt on its own, causing the infectious material to drain out to the skin’s surface and potentially leading to a large open wound. A cellulitis abscess can be identified by a reddening under the skin or on the skin’s surface that is tender and hot to the touch, with the addition of soft, fluid filled pockets under the skin’s surface. When left untreated, cellulitis abscesses can quickly spread throughout the body leading to complications such as bacteremia and organ damage. Doctors will typically treat a cellulitis abscess by draining and cleaning it to remove the infectious contents and treat the infection itself. The patient may be left with a drain in place to allow the abscess to continue draining and be given a course of antibiotics to be taken for the body to kill off the infectious bacteria. The drain can be removed once the cellulitis has cleared up and the abscess has started to heal.
Cellulitis is caused by bacteria entering the skin through cracks and open wounds on the skin’s surface. Skin conditions such as athlete’s foot and eczema can increase your likelihood of catching cellulitis from the cracks on the skin that these conditions can cause. It is possible to transmit cellulitis through an open wound that comes into contact with the skin of an infected person although it isn’t usually spread from person to person. Your risk of catching cellulitis can also increase if you have a weakened immune system as the body isn’t able to provide as much protection against the infection as needed to fight it off. It is important to keep breaks on the skin clean and covered with a bandage until a scab forms to prevent cellulitis bacteria from entering the skin. You should also monitor any wounds for signs of redness, pain or drainage. These can be indications of an infection.
An abscess that is on the skin’s surface or just under the surface is easier to monitor to see if it is spreading or growing in size. However, abscesses can also spread below the skin’s surface into deeper tissue inside the body which can lead to serious complications. Signs and symptoms of an abscess spreading beneath the skin’s surface can include fever and chills, a red streak on the skin leading away from the sore and tender lymph nodes anywhere on the body between your heart and where the abscess is. This could include the groin for abscesses on the leg and the armpit for abscesses on the arm. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms, as this can be an indication of the infection spreading through your body.
We serve patients from College Park MD, New Carrollton MD, Falls Church VA, and Berwyn Height, MD Acredale MD, and Old Town MD.
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