Abscess is a soft, circumscribed tumor, containing matter, generally attended with fluctuation, and some-times, though not always, with considerable pain. It is the consequence of some previous inflammation, and is often a critical effort of Nature to relieve the patient from superfluous or noxious humours, and to remove an acute disease.
The mode of treatment, to be adopted in the cure of an abscess, . will be to assist its complete suppuration, and promote a free discharge of matter; for which purposes, all remedies that have a tendency to soften the skin, and encourage perspiration, are eminently useful In • s, however, and where suppuration proceeds but slowly, it will sometimes be 1. necessary t open it either by caustic applications, or the lancet.
Warm fomentations, and emollient cataplasms made either with bread and milk, or oatmeal, renewed several times a day, are. the usual poultices for an abscess. In large tumours, from which the discharge of matter has been considerable. especially in those of the lover extremities, it will often be necessary to have recourse to such internal remedies as may strengthen and support the system. Bark, wine, and, if considerable pain or irritation prevail, opiates judiciously administered, will be highly beneficial.
Dr. Hartung, an ingenious physician at Erfurt, in. Germany, has lately proposed a plan for the treatment of abscesses; which, for its simplicity and novelty, is worthy of attention. In their incipient stage, he recommends the frequent application of compresses moistened with simple warm water, and after the suppuration has entirely ceased, the same fluid applied in a cold state, in order to strengthen the surrounding parts.
Abscesses, which are formed on any of the more important organs of life, such as the brain, the lungs, liver, etc are particularly to be dreaded ; as, by bursting, and discharging their contents into the contiguous cavities, they frequently occasion instantaneous death. From neglect, or mismanagement, abscesses sometimes terminate in mortification, or Gangrene; which subject will be farther discussed under the head of Inflammation.