An abscess on the cheek is a collection of pus, which is located in a newly formed by tissue fusion cavity and is separated by a thin membranous capsule from the surrounding tissue. Colloquially, an abscess is also referred to as an itchy paunch and those affected suffer from a "fat cheek". Depending on the cause, the abscess on the cheek can either be on the outside of the face or on the cheeks.

Causes of an abscess on the cheek

Abscesses on the cheeks occur when bacteria enter the tissue via small injuries of the skin or mucous membrane and cause an infection there. In most cases, the pathogens of purulent abscesses are bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus, whose most common representative is Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria are naturally present on every human being's body surface and usually pose no problems there.

However, if the bacteria get under the skin and multiply there, the body reacts with an inflammatory reaction. In an abscess, the immune system fails to completely combat the bacteria. For this reason, the body encapsulates the infection with a thin capsule from the surrounding tissue, thereby preventing the inflammation from spreading. In particular, people with a weakened immune system (for example, persons with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus or immunosuppressed persons after transplantation) are particularly susceptible to the formation of abscesses.

The causes of an abscess on the cheek are manifold. Often, an abscess forms on the cheek as a result of a heavily inflamed pus. By pushing around on an immature pimple bacteria are squeezed into the tissue and lead to abscess formation. Another cause of abscesses on the cheek are piercings, so-called cheeks. By injuring the skin during piercing bacteria enter the tissue and form an abscess. In addition, tooth inflammation, severe periodontitis or jaw inflammation can lead to abscess formation on the cheek.

Symptoms of an abscess on the cheek

An abscess on the cheek leads to the classic signs of inflammation, the severity of the symptoms being mainly dependent on the severity of the inflammation and the precise localization of the abscess. Due to the inflammatory reaction, the tissue around the abscess is severely swollen, reddened and the skin feels warm. The cheek on the affected side is "thick" due to the swelling and the affected persons sometimes feel strong pain, which makes them very sensitive to touch on the face.

The pain and swelling may also affect the function of the mouth. This means that the abscess on the cheek causes trouble speaking, chewing and swallowing. Even the opening of the mouth and eating or drinking are felt by those affected as very painful.

In the worst case, it may be that pus and bacteria from the abscess into the bloodstream and there lead to blood poisoning (sepsis). The ill persons then feel very ill and have a high fever, which is why a doctor or hospital must be visited immediately. Sepsis is a serious complication of an abscess, which may even lead to multiple organ failure and death.

Abscess after a pimple

A purulent pimple on the cheek is already a small abscess, but it is relatively harmless. Sometimes, however, a simple purulent pimple may form a dangerous abscess on the cheek. This happens above all by unprofessional pushing around on the pimple, whereby bacteria from the skin are squeezed deep into the tissue and can lead to severe inflammations.

Therefore, blemishes should only be expressed with a clean tissue or beautician. If an abscess has formed from the pimples, this is indicated by the strong swelling and redness of the skin. The abscess on the cheek can either be treated with ointment or, in the worst case, cut open.

Abscess on the inner cheek mucosa

Abscesses that form on the inside of the cheeks are often caused by diseases of the teeth and the periodontium. These include purulent periodontitis, severe tooth inflammation or inflamed wounds after a tooth removal. But even a small injury to the oral mucosa is sufficient so that bacteria can penetrate into the tissue and cause an encapsulated inflammation there. Sometimes the bacteria are also spread over the bloodstream from another part of the body in the mouth and then capsules there. Often, the exact cause of abscess formation on the cheek is not entirely clear.

An abscess is diagnosed on the cheek by a dentist. The doctor cuts the abscess through a small incision on the cheek mucosa and allows the accumulated pus to drain away. The procedure takes place under local anesthesia. After the abscess has been cut open and emptied, those affected feel an immediate improvement of the symptoms. After the doctor prescribes antibiotics. This supports the healing process and also prevents an abscess from forming again immediately in the same place.

Pus with an abscess on the cheek

An abscess on the cheek consists of an encapsulated pus build-up under the skin. The pus is a whitish fluid that forms from dead tissue, defunct white blood cells, and bacteria. By the death of the tissue, a newly formed cavity is formed, in which the pus can accumulate. If an abscess matures, the accumulation of pus is visible as a white head. The doctor cuts out the abscess and allows the pus to drain. As the purulent fluid contains bacteria, it is still infectious and must be completely removed from the wound, otherwise an abscess may quickly re-emerge.


The doctor diagnosed an abscess on the cheek about the typical clinical appearance: the skin over the abscess is very swollen, warm and red. Due to the strong swelling, the affected persons feel a feeling of tension and more or less pronounced pain at the inflamed area. In addition, blood may be drawn to control inflammatory levels such as CRP and leukocytes (white blood cells). In some cases, the doctor may also puncture the abscess and microbiologically diagnose the bacteria in the pus to prescribe a suitable antibiotic.

Treatment of an abscess in the cheek

The treatment of an abscess on the cheek depends on the severity of the inflammation and the place where the abscess is located exactly. Minor abscesses on the outside of the facial skin may be treated with ointment.

Larger abscesses indicate severe inflammation and must be treated by a doctor. Even abscesses that lie on the inside of the cheek mucosa should be treated promptly by a dentist.

The only way to permanently treat an abscess is to cut it open. The doctor performs the minor surgery under local anesthesia. By means of a small skin incision, the abscess on the cheek is split and the accumulated pus can drain off. Then it is rinsed with an antiseptic liquid and the wound is laid out with compresses. It is not sutured to prevent bacteria from immediately decapsulating and forming a new abscess. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe a drug therapy with antibiotics. After splitting the abscess, the wound usually heals completely within a few days, but the skin incision may leave behind a fine white scar.

Duration of an abscess

An abscess on the cheek takes about one to two weeks, depending on size and treatment. Small abscesses heal relatively quickly using a train ointment, whereas larger abscesses require more time. Generally, the faster the abscess is treated, the shorter the disease duration.

Above all, abscesses on the cheek can cause serious problems and last a long time, so if an abscess is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately. After the abscess has been cut, the pain and discomfort are relieved very quickly and the wound heals with administration of antibiotics after a few days.

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