• Danya Reich
  • Corinna Eleni Psomadakis
  • Bobby Buka


A cutaneous abscess is an accumulation of pus in the dermis and subcutaneous tissue that occurs as an inflammatory response to invading bacteria. When they involve hair follicles they are called furuncles. The most common pathogens are streptococci, Staphylococcus aureus, and MRSA. Abscesses are tender, fluctuant, and erythematous masses of varying sizes. Uncomplicated masses are treated by incision and drainage procedures. Large, numerous, or recurrent abscesses, as well as those accompanied by systemic symptoms such as fever, also warrant oral antibiotic therapy. Recurrent abscesses suggest the presence of a bacterial reservoir, in which case treating the nasal mucosa and using antibacterial body wash may help to resolve the condition.


Abscess Bacterial infection Bacteria Pustule Erythema Staphylococcus aureus Staph Streptococcus Strep Infection Cellulitis Skin and soft tissue infection SSTI Fluctuant Purulent Pus I&D Incision and drainage Antibiotics Oral antibiotics MRSA 


  1. 1.
    Singer AJ, Talan DA. Management of skin abscesses in the era of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(11):1039–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Qualls ML, Mooney MM, Camargo Jr CA, Zucconi T, Hooper DC, Pallin DJ. Emergency department visit rates for abscess versus other skin infections during the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, 1997–2007. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;55(1):103–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gaspari RJ, Blehar D, Polan D, Montoya A, Alsulaibikh A, Liteplo A. The Massachusetts abscess rule: a clinical decision rule using ultrasound to identify methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in skin abscesses. Acad Emerg Med. 2014;21(5):558–67.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Earley MA, Friedel ME, Govindaraj S, Tessema B, Eloy JA. Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in nasal vestibular abscess. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2011;1(5):379–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stevens DL, Bisno AL, Chambers HF, Dellinger EP, Goldstein EJ, Gorbach SL, Hirschmann JV, Kaplan SL, Montoya JG, Wade JC. Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of skin and soft tissue infections: 2014 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;59(2):e10–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Singer AJ, Thode Jr HC, Chale S, Taira BR, Lee C. Primary closure of cutaneous abscesses: a systematic review. Am J Emerg Med. 2011;29(4):361–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Miller LG, Daum RS, Creech CB, Young D, Downing MD, Eells SJ, Pettibone S, Hoagland RJ, Chambers HF, DMID 07-0051 Team. Clindamycin versus trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for uncomplicated skin infections. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(12):1093–103.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danya Reich
    • 1
  • Corinna Eleni Psomadakis
    • 2
  • Bobby Buka
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineMount Sinai School of Medicine Attending Mount Sinai Doctors/Beth Israel Medical Group-WilliamsburgBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.School of Medicine Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations