What is Foot Abscess & How is it Treated?
Foot Abscess is a medical condition in which the skin of the foot contains pus deposits due to presence of bacterial infection. The infection can occur in between the toes or can be present at the joint. Usually, the occurrence of Foot Abscess is abrupt as the condition is found to be permanent in individuals with compromised immunity or metabolism.
What is Foot Abscess?
Foot Abscess occurs when sweat glands or oil glands get obstructed, hair follicles get inflamed, bruising or lesions in the skin occur. These let germs underneath the skin resulting in pus formation due to the inflammatory response of the body. The Abscess constitutes dead cells, bacteria and other particles which strain the skin causing inflammation in the surrounding tissues. This results in pus formation in the cavity of the skin, thereby posing a risk of spreading of infection to the other parts of the body.
In case of Abscess in the foot, it becomes tedious to treat it owing to the possibility of severe complications. Patients with compromised immunity or prior health conditions like diabetes or metabolic conditions, this condition may result in loss of tissue, traumatic pain and inability in providing optimal treatment.
Symptoms of Foot Abscess
The symptoms that mark the presence of Abscess in the foot are:-
- Abscess becomes tender and reddish in appearance
- Warm on touching
- Progressive presence of Abscess, leads to head formation which may rupture abruptly.
- Chances of illness and development of fever if the infection has spread in deep.
- Severe Abscess may infect the blood stream.
Causes of Foot Abscess
Abscess in foot is commonly caused due to the frequent injury or cut on the foot. The other causes that result in foot Abscess are bacterial infection wound, chronic steroid therapy, insect bites, infection in hair follicles and boils. The bacterium that causes Abscess specifically in the foot is Fusobacterium necrophorum and Arcanobacterium pyogenes.
Diagnosis of Foot Abscess
The factors on which the diagnosis of foot Abscess is dependent are:-
- Prior medical condition
- Presence of fever.
The initial diagnosis involves physical examination to check the extent of infection or pus formation. Furthermore, the pus in the Abscess can be sent for blood tests and wound cultures. This helps in identification of the bacteria and then providing of the related treatment.
Foot Abscess Care at Home
The foot abscess can be taken care of at home by following these tips:
- Application of warm compression for 30 minutes. This should be done at least four times a day.
- Avoiding draining of boil by applying pressure. This prevents the infection from getting into the deeper tissues.
- Avoid pricking by sharp instruments to prevent injury to the blood vessels lying beneath.
- Allow the abscess to heal by itself after the pus drains.
When to Seek Medical Help for Foot Abscess?
Medical help should be contacted whenever any of the below complications appear:-
- The size of the foot abscess is greater than 1 cm.
- Presence of health condition like HIV, AIDS, Cancer, Diabetes etc.
- The foot abscess delays in healing with increased size and pain.
- Presence of fever above 100.4 degree fahrenheit.
- Presence of foreign particle in the wound.
- Increased reddishness around the Abscess.
How is Foot Abscess Treated?
The treatment for Foot Abscess include:-
- Medication for Treating Foot Abscess: These medications include antibiotics depending upon the severity of the foot abscess and depth of infection.
- Drainage of Pus to let the Foot Abscess Heal: It is done in the case where infection does not resolve even after the medication. This is a surgical procedure for removal of pus.
- Surgery and Amputation to Treat Foot Abscess: Under rare circumstances, the infection can spread into the bone and the only alternative remains in treating the condition is amputation.
Prevention of Foot Abscess
The precautionary measures to prevent Foot Abscess are:-
- Maintaining personal hygiene.
- Regular Cleaning of feet.
- If foreign debris is present then seek medical attention.
- Prevent self-drainage of Abscess.
Abscess occurs as a defensive response of the body towards the spreading of the infection within the body and foot is the most common of all the body parts to suffer from abscess due to frequent cuts, abrasions and injuries. The defensive response of the body results in development of a cavity within the feet which is filled with pus and necrotic issue. The pus development leads to the buildup of swelling, inflammation and reddishness around the cavity. The infection is often caused due to bacterial infection, steroid administration, boils, wound infection, insect bite and folliculitis. Cracks in the skin or skin injury act as entry point for the bacteria and aid in development of abscess. Foot abscess can be treated with medication, surgical and conservative measures, but it is important to follow precautionary measures to prevent the abscess. In case the wound gets accidentally punctured, then immediately medical help should be contacted.