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Symptoms - Abscess

The symptoms of an abscess depend on where it develops in your body.

Skin abscesses

Red lump on white skin. The lump is on the jaw near the chin.

Signs of a skin abscess include:

  • a smooth swelling under your skin
  • pain and tenderness in the affected area
  • warmth and redness in the affected area
  • a visible build-up of white or yellow pus under the skin in the affected area
  • a high temperature
  • chills

A boil is a common example of a skin abscess.

Internal abscesses

Some abscesses develop inside an organ or in the spaces between organs. These can be more difficult to identify than skin abscesses. The symptoms might not be clear. There may be no obvious external signs of a problem.

The symptoms of an internal abscess can vary. They depend on exactly where in the body the abscess develops, for example:

  • a liver abscess may cause jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • an abscess in or near the lungs may cause a cough or shortness of breath

General symptoms of an internal abscess can include:

  • discomfort or tenderness in the area of the abscess
  • high temperature
  • increased sweating
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • chills
  • pain or swelling in your tummy
  • loss of appetite and weight loss

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 2 November 2023
Next review due: 2 November 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.