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What Is an Abscess?

An abscess is a collection of pus formed in the body by certain kinds of bacteria or germs. These bacteria may gain entrance through an opening in the skin, or they may be carried to some weakened spot by the blood. Once they have found a place in the body, they feed upon the tissues near them and multiply rapidly. However, the body has a way of defending itself against the bacteria. Blood rushes to the infected part, causing the heat and redness known as inflammation, but bringing with it the white corpuscles or blood cells whose work it is to attack the disease germs.

A creamy yellow pus is formed containing dead germs and cells, destroyed tissue of the body and liquid from the blood. As this pus collects, the pressure causes pain. If the abscess is inside the body (for instance, in the liver) and the pus cannot escape, the results may be serious. Smaller abscesses near the skin, such as pimples and boils, may break by themselves, but usually can be cut or lanced as soon as they are ready. This,

of course, should only be done by a doctor. Abscesses should not be squeezed, because squeezing breaks down the wall of protection around them which has been built up by the body tissues. When the pus drains away, the abscess soon heals but sometimes leaves a scar.

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