Causes of an Abscess


An abscess is an encapsulated collection of pus that is located in a newly formed body cavity made of melted tissue. Abscesses can form anywhere in the body and on organs. In most cases, an abscess is caused by bacteria that enter the body through injury or infection, trigger an immune response and lead to the formation of pus.

The immune system tries to contain the inflammation and forms an encapsulated cavity, the abscess. The causes of an abscess are many. An abscess can form in the body from wounds, inflammation, or incorrectly administered injections.

Also check out our main comprehensive article on the abscess topic at the link below: Abscess

Abscess due to diabetes

People with weakened immune systems are more prone to infection and more likely to develop abscesses than healthy people. The increased blood sugar in diabetes mellitus (diabetes) weakens the immune system against pathogens and makes the patient more susceptible to infections and thus abscesses.

Often the abscesses appear after injuries to the skin, e.g. on the legs or in the armpit. The exact mechanism why diabetics have a suppressed immune system is not yet known.

You might also be interested in the following two topics in this context: Abscess on the leg and abscess of the axilla

The bacterium is one of the typical pathogens causing an abscess Staphylococcus aureusthat occurs naturally on human skin. The pathogens can get into the body through small injuries to the skin.

Usually small wounds are not a problem for people with healthy immune systems and the infection can be cleared quickly. Diabetics, however, have a weak immune system and therefore have problems killing the germs. As a result, the bacteria can multiply more easily and form abscesses.

The following topic may also be of interest to you: How can you strengthen the immune system?

Abscess after a pimple

Purulent pimples form quickly on various parts of the body, e.g. on the face or on the back (see also: Abscess on the back). These are small abscesses caused by clogged pores. Excessive sebum production and dead skin clog the fine pores of the skin, making it easier for bacteria to multiply.

The body reacts with inflammation and pus forms, which can be encapsulated in an abscess. Pimples usually heal on their own after a short time and do not require treatment. With immature pimples that are not yet completely filled with pus, it is important not to "squeeze" them.

This allows the bacteria to spread even further in the tissue and in the worst case even lead to sepsis (blood poisoning) or trigger a dangerous brain abscess in the brain.

Abscess due to increased testosterone levels

An increased level of testosterone in the body can lead to the formation of abscesses on the skin. Testosterone is an important male sex hormone. Intense exercise and muscle building lead to an increased production of the sex hormone and increase the testostosterone level in the body.

Many athletes and bodybuilders take anabolic steroids in addition to exercising. These are artificially produced derivatives of testosterone. They are used to build muscle, reduce the percentage of body fat and maintain muscle mass.

As a side effect, slight acne can occur even with low doses. In severe cases, acne conglobata, a severe form of conventional acne caused by hormones (such as testosterone), occurs. The skin changes go with the formation of numerous blackheads (Comedones), Pustules and nodules.

The foci of inflammation can converge and form small fistulas (tubular connecting ducts) and painful abscesses. The abscesses tend to form on the face, back and chest. Every second man who takes anabolic steroids develops this form of acne, which can develop after a few weeks of doping.

Psychological causes of an abscess

The formation of an abscess is favored by a weakened immune system, since the pathogens can more easily penetrate the body and multiply. Psychological stress and constant stress weaken the immune system. As a result, the appearance of pimples and abscesses is favored.

Also read our article: Consequences of stress

Chemotherapy as the cause of an abscess

Another cause of abscesses can be chemotherapy. During chemotherapy, drugs (cytostatics) are administered that inhibit the multiplication of cancer cells. However, these substances do not act specifically on tumor cells, but rather inhibit the cell growth of rapidly growing cells, e.g. also cells of the mucous membranes or the blood and immune cells in the bone marrow.

This can impair the immune system during chemotherapy. The weakened immune system is less able to fight bacteria that have entered and abscesses form more often.

Read more on the subject below: Side effects of chemotherapy

Abscess as a complication after an operation

An abscess can form as a complication after surgery. Bacteria are introduced into the abdominal cavity and cause an inflammatory reaction there, which in turn encapsulates itself in an abscess cavity. The abdominal cavity is usually sterile, which means that there are no bacteria in it. Even with great care, bacteria can get into the open abdomen during an operation.

The bacteria can, for example, be found on surgical instruments that have not been adequately sterilized, although this is very rarely the case. Another possibility of infection is that the pathogens collect in the air and thus get into the open abdomen. This can happen if there are many people in the operating room, the room has not been cleaned sufficiently or the operating room clothing is contaminated with germs.

Another reason why an abscess forms after an operation is if the bowel is injured during the operation and intestinal contents enter the abdomen.

Abscess as a complication of a sinus infection

An abscess can develop as a complication of a sinus infection (sinusitis). The paranasal sinuses are air-filled cavities in the cranial bones and often become infected as part of a flu-like infection. If the infection, nasal polyps or a crooked nasal septum are "dragged on", the paranasal sinuses are no longer adequately ventilated and a chronic sinusitis develops.

The persistent inflammation can cause purulent abscesses to form in the skull. There is a great risk that the infection will spread to the nearby eye socket (orbit) or the brain, which can permanently damage the optic nerve and the brain.

You might also be interested in the following topic: Inflammation of the optic nerve

What is a syringe abscess?

A syringe abscess is caused by an injection. Bacteria get under the skin with a needle through a non-sterile syringe and multiply there. As the infected tissue melts down as part of the inflammatory reaction, pus forms and an abscess develops at the injection site. Injection abscesses can occur wherever injections are used, especially on the upper arm, stomach area, buttocks and thighs.

After the injection, a small bruise often forms at the injection site, which swells and hurts. A small bump can be felt under the skin, this is the encapsulated abscess cavity.

Injection abscesses are common in drug addicts who use unclean equipment to inject. But they can also occur if the doctor has given a vaccine. It is difficult to prove that the abscess was actually caused by a contaminated needle after the treatment at the doctor and not by unsanitary conditions in the care.

If an injection abscess is suspected, those affected should see a dermatologist who can easily diagnose the abscess. The doctor will prescribe antibiotic medication, which will help the abscess to heal quickly.