Abscess

Abscess is a pocket of pus collection caused due to suppuration after bacterial infection (mostly) or injury or foreign substances. It can occur anywhere in the body, i.e., outer surface or inner deeper organs or tissues. A boil or a pustule or a pimple in skin can be considered as small abscess. Initially, it will start with tender swelling with throbbing pain and its fate ends in draining of pus either inside or outside where the points are weak and easily prone for a let out.

Abscess

Incidences – Even though it can occur in any part of the body, most commonly it occurs in and around the armpits and around anus (in buttocks). It can also occur in the root of the tooth, tonsils, liver, kidney, intestines, brain and spinal column. It is commonly noted in persons with poor hygiene, diabetics, alcoholics and in allergic personalities (with drug or food or irritants). Also it happens to crop up often in auto-immune disorders like psoriasis, SLE and in cancers and also with their treatment.

Types – Abscess can be classified as acute and chronic depending upon the period of suffering. Also it can be classified as septic abscess and sterile abscess.

Septic abscess is caused by bacterias and the bacteria can be identified with culture reports, whereas sterile abscess is caused by injury or injection or foreign substances without bacterial invasion. The abscess can be localised or become multiple (generalised) with blood contamination.

Pathophysiology
– Normally, abscess formation is a natural process in expelling the disease/foreign substances from our body. It needs to get opened on its own or with surgical intervention to expel the liquid contents. Initially, the infected or injured part will be flooded with blood. This causes redness, swelling and heat on that part. Increased blood supply also dilutes the toxins, supplies defence forces (white blood cells, enzymes and antibodies) to the affected part and nourishment to the inflamed part for better healing. Abscess finally makes destruction/necrosis of the solid tissue around infective agent / bacteria / foreign substance to form pus (yellow or green inflammatory liquid containing digested / active germs, WBCs, cell debris, etc.), so that it can simply wash out with the disease / foreign substances from our body. Normally, it will take a week or two. Sometimes it can even persist for months and also be recurrent in nature.

Symptoms - The most common symptoms are:

• Pain and sensitivity to touch. Pain will be mostly pricking in character.
• Redness and warm swelling
• Discharge of pus - when it opens
• Fever with chill and bodyache
• Nearby lymph node enlargement  
• Even though all the abscesses feel warm due to increased blood circulation, tubercular abscesses usually remain cold and so are called cold abscess which need immediate critical care.  

Causes – The most common causative factors are

• Infection - Bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus), fungus, viral, etc.
• Injections and injuries including thorn pricks and insect bites  
• Diseases – diabetes, cancer and AIDS
• Drugs and therapy (steroidal and chemotherapy)
• Skin diseases – psoriasis, eczema,herpes, etc
• In all the cases, poor hygienic measures and negligence in taking treatment account for the increased intensity of disease / suffering.

Diagnosis – The key symptoms, i.e., redness, heat, swelling and pain, usually make diagnosis easy. Even though simple physical examination is enough to diagnose the condition, persistent cases often require routine blood tests and culture of the discharge. In suspected cases, auto immune antibodies need to be analysed.

complication – Usually, abscess drains (either by natural or by surgical drainage) and gets healed. If there is lack of care in letting out the pus and helping in the healing, the chances for spread of infection through blood (septicaemia), formation of sinus / fistula / gangrene may occur. Also, delayed wound healing usually ends in scar formation with contractures and puckering. Above all, rupture of abscess in deeper organs can threaten one’s life with the symptoms of shock. Complications of most of cases are only due to negligence or because of what is leftover.

Management and prevention - The secret lies in cleanliness and avoiding bacteria or allergens.

Do’s

• Keep infected area dry and clean
• Give rest to part involved
• Elevate the infected area to make good venous drain and for reduction of pain
• Apply warmth to comfort pain. Warmth usually enhances the blood
• circulation, dilutes the infective agents and quickens the healing process.  
• Control sugar levels in case of diabetes Take
• Plenty of water to keep good body hydration  
• Fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy living
• Supplements - Vitamins A, C and zinc for better healing  

Take

• Plenty of water to keep good body hydration  
• Fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy living
• Supplements - Vitamins A, C and zinc for better healing

Avoid

• Picking or peeling or pinching  
• Fatty/oily foods
• Sugar

General treatment and surgery – The first and foremost approach of the modern school of medicine is to start with antibiotic treatment to arrest infection and its spread. Usually, they follow antibiotics and allow some time for the abscess to get ripened before doing I & D (incision and drainage). They also provide analgesics to reduce pain and anti-pyretic to reduce fever. Then, depending upon the cause and symptoms, they will try to eliminate the cause and make drain to switch off the pain and symptoms. Proper diagnosis, proper drainage and proper hygienic care will cure the abscess at the earliest. In some cases, even after surgical drain, wound healing may be difficult (if wound is very deep).

Homeopathic approach – Abscess usually takes a week to resolve on its own. But, sometimes, abscess would become persistent and may be letting out pus when it is not properly cared for with medical intervention. Beyond the facts, even then with good care, some may develop recurrence which is more vulnerable to spread of infection. Homeopathy, unlike other system of medicines, doesn’t concentrate in just healing the spot, but it also aborts the tendency to spread and recur. It will also enhance healing.

Homeopathy can play a vital role in curbing abscess as soon as it appears and forcing it to get opened in later stages. There are many remedies in Homeopathy like surgeon scalpel which can let out pus from abscess to expel germs, foreign substance (thorn, etc.) at a faster rate. So, Homeopathy can treat abscess harmlessly for keeping good harmony of health without much pain. The earlier you treat, you get speedier and complete cure.

Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of abscess are Acid flour, Acid nit, Aconite, Anthraxinum, Apis mel, Ars Alb, Bacillinum, Belladonna, Bryonia, Calc Sulp, Nat sulp, Calc Flour, Echinacea, Hepar sulph, Kali bich, Lachesis, Merc sol, Myristica, Pyrogen, Rhus tox, Silicea, Sulphur, Tarentula, etc. These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.

Doctor's Profile

Dr S Chidambaranathan

Published On : Jun 05, 2010

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