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An abscess refers to an accumulation of pus anywhere on the body. The most common body areas where abscess occur are the face, armpits, female breast (especially during lactation), rectum, and on the extremities (fingers and toes). Abscess is usually caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, and can also be due to parasites.

Symptoms of abscess include swelling, tenderness, or redness (often with a sensation of being hot to the touch) in and around the infected area. A severe abscess can cause fever, cellulitis, (buildup of cellulite due to inflammation of cellular tissue associated with pus formation), fatigue, weight loss, chills, abnormal functioning depending on the area affected or, at worst, blood infection and rupture.

What To Consider

Abscess can result from allergic infections, boils, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, and/or poor immune response. If abscesses are chronic or recurrent, this may be a sign of food, environmental, or chemical allergies.

External abscesses that are mild may respond to gentle heat from warm water soaks and to improved nutrition. Most abscesses, however, need to be treated with antibiotics or herbs. Supplementing with acidophilus (especially if antibiotics are used) and B vitamins, as well as increasing fluids is recommended. The need for specific other treatment measures, such as drainage, compression bandage, or surgery, should be assessed by a holistic physician or health practitioner.

Abscesses that are moderate to severe may require bed rest, local ice packs, or hot baths. Incomplete drainage may result in fibrous wall with calcium accumulation resulting in a hardened mass. Abscesses may be caused or worsened by decreased immune functioning. In most cases, an abscess should start to clear up in several days. A failure to clear up or bouts of reoccurrences may indicate serious problems with immune functioning and overall health and require professional care. Assess your lifestyle to reduce areas of stress or other problems that may be contributing to a decrease in general health and immune functioning, and get plenty of rest.

If your abscess is recurrent, this may indicate an imbalance in your body and the need for a bowel cleanse and rejuvenation program.

Self-Care Tips

Increase liquids such as filtered water, fresh vegetable and fruit juices. Avoid all stressor foods, especially refined sugars, and alcohol for at least two weeks. Also avoid cow's milk dairy products and processed foods and drink water with the juice of one fresh squeezed lemon upon rising and before going to bed. If your abscess is chronic, eat plenty of organic berries (fresh or frozen) or drink berry leaf teas.

Nutritional Supplementation
The following nutrients are all useful for treating abscess and can be used in combination with each other:

  • vitamin A (50,000 IU for two weeks),
  • beta carotene (100,000 IU for two weeks),
  • B-complex vitamin formula,
  • vitamin C (5-10 grams daily),
  • and zinc (60 mg. daily for two weeks).
Additional supplements that can be considered include liquid chlorophyll, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria culture (several times per day), garlic capsules, and proteolytic enzymes (taken on an empty stomach).

A hot compress of bergamot, tea tree, lavender, chamomile, garlic oils can bring relief of abscess symptoms and help to speed healing.

A short (48-hour) water or juice fast to encourage more rapid detoxification and healing is often helpful in cases of chronic abscess.

Flower Essences
Apply Rescue Remedy Cream to the area of healthy skin around the abscess (but not on top of or in the abscessed area) four times a day.

Burdock root, cayenne, dandelion root, echinacea, goldenseal, red clover, yarrow, and yellowdock root, taken as tinctures or as teas, either individually or in combination, can help boost immunity and therefore help hasten healing.

Belladonna, Merc sol., Hepar sulph., Silica, and Bryonia can all be useful for treating abscess.

Topical Treatment
Use a paste of goldenseal root powder and calendula succus (the juice of the marigold flower). Place the paste over the abscess and leave it on twelve to twenty-four hours. It will often draw out the infection, while stimulating regeneration of the damaged tissues.

As an alternative, apply a mixture of zinc oxide cream, the squeezed contents of one vitamin A capsule (10,000 IU), and liquid chlorophyll on external abscesses three times daily. If all three are not available use whichever you can obtain. Another alternative is to apply raw, unprocessed honey to infected area.


If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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