Abscess on the chin
An abscess on the chin is a collection of pus in an encapsulated, tissue cavity. The pus is created by the penetration of certain pathogens that cause an inflammatory reaction and multiply.
In most cases, these pathogens are certain bacteria, the so-called staphylococci, which are part of normal skin colonization and can penetrate the tissue due to a small injury to the skin. The body's immune system tries to kill the bacteria that have invaded, which causes pus to form.
In addition to bacteria and dead cell parts, this also contains defense cells of the body's immune system. Pressure in the surrounding tissue can cause the abscess to cause severe chin pain that can spread to the entire face.
Abscesses in the face and jaw area can also be caused by abnormal changes in the teeth. For example, residual roots left in the jaw can lead to abscesses in the lower jaw.
If an abscess forms on the follicle of the chin, it is called a boil. If several of these boils lie together and merge into one another, then one speaks of a carbuncle.
Causes of an abscess on the chin
There are several causes for an abscess to develop on the chin. However, the most common cause is considered to be the invasion of pathogens, which leads to an inflammatory reaction. Often these are bacteria that are part of normal skin colonization and thus also occur on the skin of healthy people. In addition to the streptococci, the staphylococci also play an important role, especially the staphylococcus aureus.
In order for the bacteria to penetrate the skin, an entry point is required.These are small scratches or open areas of skin that can be caused by small injuries or cuts, for example after shaving in men. The body activates its immune system to fight the pathogens and as a result pus develops. This is then encased in a capsule to prevent further spread into the surrounding tissue.
In addition, many other factors are known that can promote the development of an abscess on the chin. Skin that has already been damaged, such as in patients with neurodermatitis, makes it easier for the bacteria to enter. In addition, a weakened or malfunctioning immune system represents an increased risk. In addition, poor facial hygiene and existing metabolic disorders also promote the development of an abscess.
Read more on the topic: Boils on the chin
Antibacterial aftershave balms can also help disinfect and soothe the skin. This is especially true after hair removal. One example of this is the Dr. Severin Body After-Shave Balm from the pharmacy.
Symptoms of an abscess on the chin
Symptoms of an abscess on the chin are the typical signs of inflammation. The chin is often severely swollen, overheated and appears red compared to the surroundings. In addition, the affected area is usually very tender. The resulting pain can spread to the surrounding facial structures and lead to functional restrictions. This can lead to problems with chewing, for example. Often a small point of pus surrounded by the abscess capsule can be found on the surface of the abscess.
In abscesses that are located in deeper tissue layers, a symptom-free course can initially set in. Only when the abscess exceeds a certain size can symptoms appear. If the abscess opens up, the pathogens can spread and general symptoms of illness arise, such as fever and general malaise. If the pathogens continue to spread and enter the bloodstream, blood poisoning may develop. Above all, abscesses that are located above an imaginary line between the earlobe and the corner of the mouth on the same side represent a risk factor for the spread of the pathogen into the meninges or the brain. To avoid potential complications, an abscess should always be treated quickly.
Also read our topic: Abscess or boil?
In addition to symptoms such as fever and general fatigue, an abscess leads to pain in most cases.
The pain can occur mainly when moving the chin, for example when chewing or speaking, but can also occur at rest. If the pain occurs when moving, it is tension pain. In addition, in most cases, touching the abscess is very painful. The pain is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the nerve fibers. They usually go away quickly once the abscess has been opened.
Swelling of the skin is very typical with an abscess.
The accumulation of pus pushes the tissue outwards. Depending on how superficial the abscess is, it can also shine through the skin. Sometimes the abscess can go up on its own. If the abscess is deeper in the tissue, the skin can only bulge. Sometimes the swelling is also very red and overheated. If the swelling is felt, it usually feels resilient.
Swollen lymph nodes
The lymph nodes can react to an abscess by swelling and enlarging.
The swelling of the lymph nodes is not atypical in an abscess, but it does not have to be present either. The so-called submental lymph nodes, which are superficially palpable below the chin, are then affected by the swelling. Touching the swollen lymph nodes is usually painful. The lymph node swelling is due to the inflammation caused by the abscess and is a sign that the immune system is working. The swelling of the lymph nodes should decrease with treatment of the abscess.
More on this: Lymph node swelling in the lower jaw
It is of particular importance to avoid expressing or tampering with the abscess. This creates a high risk of spreading the causative pathogens. The method of choice for treating the abscess on the chin is surgical opening. Here, the abscess capsule is split through a small incision with a scalpel and the pus can drain away. The cavity in which the abscess lies is rinsed and cleaned, and the inflamed tissue layers are carefully removed.
The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia. The wound cavity is then not sutured, but left open. The open wound healing is intended to prevent any pathogens that may still be present from being coated again by a capsule and a new abscess formation. In order to ensure proper wound healing, the wound must be cleaned at regular intervals and a dressing changed. In the case of very deep abscesses, treatment with an antibiotic must often be initiated in addition to surgical therapy. This is to prevent the pathogens from spreading via the bloodstream.
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For further treatment, there are various ointments that are also available from pharmacies without a prescription. These pull ointments are especially recommended at the beginning of the development of an abscess on the chin, as they prevent the pathogen from spreading and inhibit the development of inflammation and pain. In the case of large abscesses, the main function of the ointment is to soften and shrink the existing abscess capsule. It also supports maturation by fusing the inflamed tissue and completely settling the pus. The ointment should be applied extensively to the abscess once a day. When the abscess is ripe, i.e. full enough, the doctor can split it.
Read more on this topic at: Treatment of an abscess
Most patients see their family doctor because of the pain they cause. This can usually make the diagnosis by just looking at the affected skin area. Since the abscess is always accompanied by a strong reddening of the skin in the area of the chin, it can be easily distinguished from a pimple.
In laboratory diagnostics, an increase in the inflammation value (CRP), as well as an increase in white blood cells (Leukocytosis) determine. In some cases it makes sense to take a smear to identify the exact pathogen.
If the abscess spreads further and the jawbone is affected, it may be necessary to include imaging procedures such as ultrasound, CT or MRI in the diagnosis.
Usually, with the right treatment, abscesses on the chin heal very well and do not leave serious scars. However, the healing phase can take longer, sometimes lasting several weeks.
Above all, it is important to regularly clean the wound well and under sterile conditions and also to change the dressing regularly so that any germs that may still be present cannot trigger new growth. If you cannot remove all of the pathogenic material present during the first surgical opening of the abscess, a second intervention is often necessary to counteract serious complications and, above all, the risk of new abscess formation.
If an abscess on the chin does not heal completely after regular treatment and recurring inflammation and pus accumulation occur, a weakness of the body's immune system should be considered. Then a possibly existing immune deficiency or diabetes should be ruled out by the doctor.
To prevent abscess formation, you should pay particular attention to thorough and regular facial hygiene and, in the case of minor injuries, clean the wound with disinfecting solutions. In addition, any underlying diseases of the patient should be well controlled through careful treatment in order to counteract a weakness of the immune system.
Duration of healing
Since an abscess must always be surgically split and drained, there is always a wound. Depending on how big and how deep the abscess on the chin was, the healing time also differs.
However, it should take at least one to two weeks for complete healing, regardless of the size of the abscess, to be expected. Healing also depends heavily on when the wound can be closed and how often the abscess needs to be rinsed after opening. Therefore, healing can take several weeks.