We're working hard to keep our patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more

Skin infections and abscesses

Your skin is your body’s biggest organ, and it’s also the most important protection your body has from the outside world. When there is a break in your skin due to an abrasion or a wound, bacteria can cross that protection and enter your body, causing an infection.

You don’t have to touch something dirty to have a skin infection. Your skin is covered with good bacteria, but if that bacteria gets past the barrier of your skin, your body will respond as if it’s a foreign invader.

What's the difference between a skin infection and an abscess?

A skin infection is simply an infection that your body is fighting in the upper two layers of your skin. An abscess occurs when your body has isolated a pathogen or infection in a fluid-filled pocket in your skin. An untreated skin infection can lead to an abscess.

A skin infection will usually occur around a break in your skin. If your skinned knee is also red, warm, and tender to the touch, you probably have a skin infection. An abscess is a more painful, pus-filled pocket. Abscesses need to be drained so that the infection can exit your body.

When to see an urgent care doctor for skin infections and abscesses

You should always see a doctor if you have symptoms of a skin infection or abscess. Symptoms of skin infection and abscess include:

  • Red, blotchy, or streaky skin
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness or pain
  • Skin that is warm to the touch
  • A visible build-up of fluid pus under the skin
  • Fever, chills, or headache along with your skin symptoms

Skin infections and abscesses will not go away on their own and always need medical attention. If you believe you have a skin infection or abscess, go to an urgent care clinic near you today.

What your urgent care doctor can do for skin infections and abscesses

Your urgent care doctor will examine your skin infection or abscess. If you have an abscess, your doctor will also need to incise and drain your abscess in the office. This process is much less painful than allowing it to happen naturally, and the pus must leave your body.

If you get antibiotic treatment early enough, you can avoid drainage. If you suspect that you have a skin infection or an abscess, do not delay treatment.

What you can do for skin infection and abscess

You should not attempt to treat a skin infection or abscess on your own. But you can prevent skin infections by making sure that you thoroughly clean any wound or abrasion with mild soap and water; even a paper cut needs to be cleaned well! Cover any open wounds or abrasions with a bandage once they’ve been cleaned to keep bacteria from entering your wound while your skin heals.

In need of urgent care?

At MedHelp urgent care, you're always treated like family. We have five convenient locations in the Birmingham area open seven days a week with extended weekday hours. Walk-ins are always welcome.

activearrow-down-whitearrow-downarrow-large-leftarrow-large-rightarrow-leftarrow-right-redarrow-rightarrow-upclosedoorfacebookfeedbackinstagramline-20pxlinkedin-roundoutline-arrow-leftoutline-arrow-rightsearchtelehealthtwitter