This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
An abscess is a collection of pus or matter in the substance of some part of the body. When the matter is poured out from some part, the process is called suppuration, when it collects in a tissue, it is an abscess. It commences with all the symptoms of inflammation, fever, pain, redness, and swelling. The centre is firm, with swelling surround it. The formation of pus is indicated by rigors, an abatement of fever, and a feeling of weight, tension, and throbbing. The centre softens, which is termed pointing, and fluctuation is felt. There is a natural tendency to discharge the pus, which is more apt to be towards the skin. It is less apt to open into serous than into mucous tissues. The abscesses that form in scrofulous cases are called cold, because the conditions of inflammation are absent. They heal, after the discharge of pus, by a process called granulation.
TREATMENT. -- The indication to be fulfilled in the treatment of abscess is to prevent the formation of pus, to evacuate it when formed, and to heal the parts so as to prevent further secretions. To prevent its formation cold applications and leeches should be applied to the part the patient purged, and restricted to a low diet. When matter is formed warm fomentations and poultices should be applied, to hasten the progress of the pus to the surface. If abscesses distinctly point they need not be opened, but allowed to burst themselves, but if they occur in loose cellular tissue, under hard skin, and show a tendency to burrow, they should be evacuated by a free incision. After evacuation the poultices should be continued, or the parts be dressed with stimulating ointments, of which the "Herbal Ointment," page 469, is the best.