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Abscesses

Abscesses are contiguous areas of the flesh which exhibit swelling, inflammation, heat, and pain. Inside an abscess is stagnant blood and puss (dead white blood cells). Abscesses often behave like pimples—coming to a head (actually, pimples are a kind of abscess). They will, from time to time break, releasing the blood and puss inside.

Why Abscesses Are of Concern

Abscesses can impair blood flow to neighboring areas. As a result, these areas are deprived of nutrients. This can cause a gangrenous condition which can result in the loss of a limb or even death itself. If an abscess is treated early on, it poses no real threat. Left untreated, however, abscesses can be deadly.

Causes

Abscesses are caused by a non-antiseptic injection procedures. This results in the introduction of local bacteria which normally exist on the surface of the skin, through puncture of the skin's protective barrier. These bacteria are introduced into the body where they grow and form an abscess.

Avoiding Abscesses

Abscesses are usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus. This is one of the kinds of bacteria that is responsible for endocarditis. The best way to avoid abscesses is to always use clean injection procedures. In particular, always use clean syringes and always clean the area in which you are injecting with alcohol.

Treatment At Home

You can do a lot yourself to heal an abscess. The first thing to do is to apply heat to the infected area. The extra heat will help to kill the bacteria which are causing the infection. Elevating the area is also helpful. In fact, the two together comprise the standard therapy with which to start.

If the abscess does not get better, it will be necessary to drain it. Before doing so, heat the area to make it easier to drain. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then rinse your hands and the infected area with alcohol.

Get a sterile needle. This should not be a used needle that has been bleached clean. Find a new needle, from a pharmacy, needle exchange, or other dependable source. Diabetic finger lances may also be used.

Puncture the abscess several times with the sterile needle. The exact number of times will depend upon the size and severity of the lesion. This will allow the abscess to drain. Apply pressure around the outside of the abscess to encourage the removal of blood and puss.

Antibiotics

You might consider taking antibiotics. This must be done carefully, and only if you know what you are doing. Misusing antibiotics make you even more sick.

Antibiotics can be obtained without a doctor in a number of ways. They are available over the counter in Mexico. They can also often be found at Chinese pharmacies.

Finding things in a Chinese pharmacy can be difficult, because the people who work there rarely speak much English. As a result, you are left to hunt on your own, but this can be rewarding in a number of ways. Go to Chinatown and go to the shops the locals frequent. Not only can you find some highly useful drugs, but you can also find some great prices. In the past, I've found antibiotics without a prescription for one-tenth the price they would be at a regular pharmacy.

Calling the Doctor

If the abscess continues or you have a fever, you should seek medical attention. The doctor will most likely do a deep lancing of the abscess. In this process, he cuts out tissue selectively in order to allow drainage. Antibiotics are also normally prescribed.

Conclusions

The biggest problem with abscesses is that people ignore them. Don't make this mistake. It is easy to treat an abscess, but if you don't treat it, you can die from it. Pay attention to abscesses and treat them with the care that they deserve.

by Dr. H © 2002
Last Modified: 10 January 2004


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