Skin Abscess

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

A skin abscess is a ‘bump’ within, or below, the skin’s surface. It is typically filled with pus, also painful, thick and swollen. Most abscesses are caused by bacterial infection.

A skin abscess may appear on any part of your body. It is akin to a pimple, but characteristically larger and deeper under the skin. Abscesses most frequently develop on the —

  • Back
  • Face
  • Chest
  • Lower abdomen
  • Buttocks.

Skin abscesses may also appear in areas of hair growth, viz., underarms, or groin.

Most skin abscesses are innocuous and may ease without treatment. Over-the-counter [OTC] creams, such as topical antibiotic creams and at-home care, may decrease the swelling and help in healing minor abscess.

Skin abscesses are, at times, more difficult to treat and may require laceration [cutting], or drainage.

It is also a fact that sometimes an abscess could lead to serious, potentially life-threatening complications — when not untreated appropriately.

Skin abscesses can occur in all age-groups. The most common causes being bacterial and other infections, surgical, or traumatic wounds. The condition may, at times, also present as boils on the skin and could turn into dreaded and painful abscesses — a collection of pus in the affected tissues.

A Case In Point

A 28-year-old lady came with a history of 10-12 years — her complaint being recurrent boils in various parts of the body, especially on the abdomen, breasts, nostrils, buttocks and thighs. There would be at least one and sometimes up to 3-4 boils, at a time, which often erupted a la small pimple-like eruptions and grow into abscess.

There would be inflammation [about an inch around it], which looked angry red and the whole area presented a burning, sore feel — when touched. Also, it would make the slightest movement difficult due to excruciating pain. The patient had undergone several courses of antibiotics, oft and on, for as many years, which provided her but only temporary relief, from the boils/abscess that were always in progress. The worst part was the predictable recurrence. This led her to finding an alternative solution to her misery — a holistic idea to resolving her health issue with Ayurveda.


After detailed interrogation and clinical examination, I analysed the possible cause: the potential vitiation of kapha and pitta dosha, lodged in the rasa-raktamamsamedovaha srotas. However, to diagnose the condition in the conventional allopathic sense, she was advised a few blood tests to primarily look at the inflammatory and infection markers. This came out negative. A pus culture to identify the organism causing the havoc, E coli, was isolated from the samples.

She was prescribed various Ayurveda formulations, spread across a period of four months, as also a few courses of Ayurveda combinations — with the idea to bringing a balance in the vitiated dosha, tackle the infection, and improve the immunity of the body — viz., paripathadi kadha, gandhaka rasayana, arogyavardhini vati, avipattikara churna, pravala panchamrita rasa, nityananda rasa, nisamalaki churna, madhusnuhi rasayana, triphala guggulu, and thiktaka ghrita.

She was advised pathya just as well to foster and hasten treatment outcomes — avoid green chili, sour, or sweet foods, red amaranth, peanuts, capsicum, and others that could further vitiate the dosha and make the blood impure. A few anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich food items were included into the regular diet in a prescribed quantity for food to work like medicine — turmeric, coriander seeds, snake gourd, radish and Indian gooseberry.

The result: her abscess responded more than favourably to Ayurveda treatment. Her happy, winsome smile revealed it all — a huge relief.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic, based out of Bengaluru, with a branch in Udupi, Karnataka, India. Her passion for Ayurveda, the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living. Dr Nayak also has credentials of being a family physician and she is loved by her patients of all age groups. She frequently shares talks regarding health with corporates and is a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease. She is also Assistant Editor [Ayurveda] @ ThinkWellness360.

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