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Skin bacterial abscess in Child
See also in: Cellulitis DDx,Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Skin bacterial abscess in Child

See also in: Cellulitis DDx,Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
Contributors: Lauren Strazzula MD, Craig N. Burkhart MD, Dean Morrell MD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


An abscess is a localized inflammatory process in which the white blood cells accumulate at the site of infection in the dermis and/or subcutaneous tissue. Lesions evolve over days to 1-2 weeks. They are usually painful and are sometimes associated with fever. Abscesses are typically caused by Staphylococcus species.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) first emerged as an important nosocomial pathogen in the 1960s. In more recent years, community-acquired outbreaks of MRSA (CA-MRSA) have been described increasingly among healthy individuals lacking the traditional risk factors for such infections (intravenous [IV] drug use, incarceration, participation in contact sports, etc). These strains have a propensity for causing abscesses, furunculosis, and folliculitis and have a unique antibiotic susceptibility profile from health care-associated strains of MRSA (HA-MRSA).


L02.91 – Cutaneous abscess, unspecified

31928004 – Abscess of skin AND/OR subcutaneous tissue

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Kerion on the scalp are fungal-induced hypersensitivity reactions, commonly associated with adenopathy, and difficult to tell from bacterial-induced abscesses.
  • In a normal host, a noninflammatory abscess is "classic" for Atypical mycobacterial infection.
  • Large dermal nodules of Pseudolymphoma (rare in childhood) or subcutaneous granuloma annulare (see Granuloma annulare) may resemble an abscess.
  • Sterile abscesses or soft tissue hypertrophy "insulin tumors" can develop at the site of insulin injections. These nodules are noninflammatory.
  • A brisk inflammatory response to molluscum virus can resemble abscesses. Look for other evidence of Molluscum contagiosum lesions and the nontoxic appearance of the patient.
  • Cutaneous dermoid cyst
  • Epidermoid cyst

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Last Updated:10/08/2017
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Patient Information for Skin bacterial abscess in Child
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Skin bacterial abscess in Child
See also in: Cellulitis DDx,Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
A medical illustration showing key findings of Skin bacterial abscess : Abscess, Skin warm to touch, Painful skin lesion
Clinical image of Skin bacterial abscess - imageId=154367. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Abscesses on the forearm, one with an ulcer and crust.'
Abscesses on the forearm, one with an ulcer and crust.
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