Symptoms of an abscess 

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

Skin abscesses

Signs of a skin abscess can include:

  • a smooth swelling under your skin that can feel hard or firm
  • 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 (fever)
  • chills

boil is a common example of a skin abscess.

Internal abscesses

Abscesses that develop inside an organ or in the spaces between organs can be more difficult to identify than skin abscesses, because the symptoms can be vague and there may be no obvious external signs of a problem.

The symptoms of an internal abscess can also vary depending on exactly where in the body the abscess develops. For example, a liver abscess may cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes), whereas an abscess in or near the lungs may cause a cough or shortness of breath.

General symptoms of an internal abscess can include:

  • discomfort in the area of the abscess
  • fever
  • increased sweating
  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • pain or swelling in your tummy (abdomen)
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • diarrhoea or constipation

Page last reviewed: 25/07/2014

Next review due: 25/07/2016