Cutaneous Abscess

Cutaneous Abscess

A cutaneous abscess is a localized accumulation of pus within the skin. It is a sign of inflammation and infection, typically caused by bacteria or fungi. Cutaneous abscesses usually require medical attention to drain and heal properly, and can be very painful and uncomfortable for the patient.

Signs and Symptoms of Cutaneous Abscess

  • A swollen, painful tender area on the skin
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Warmth to the touch
  • Pus on the affected area
  • Fever and chills

Patients may experience other symptoms such as headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea.

Causes of Cutaneous Abscess

  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Injury
  • Surgery
  • Clogged sweat glands

Most cutaneous abscesses are caused by infections, typically from a bacteria or fungus. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes are the most common bacteria that cause abscesses. Fungal infections can also cause abscesses, but are much less common.

Diagnosis & Treatment

A cutaneous abscess is usually diagnosed during an exam with a medical provider. Your provider may take a sample of the pus for testing to determine the cause. Treatment for a cutaneous abscess will depend on the cause, but typically requires antibiotics and drainage of the pus.

Drainage of the abscess can be done with a needle and syringe, or a scalpel in more severe cases. The pus will be drained and should be sent for testing to determine the cause. The area may need to be packed with gauze or a sterile dressing to prevent further infection and help it heal. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the abscess completely.


The best way to prevent a cutaneous abscess is to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands often and avoiding contact with others. Also, if you have an open wound or sore, make sure to keep it clean and covered. If you have a weakened immune system, be sure to speak with your doctor about ways to protect yourself from infections.