dermatology; skin pigmentation; skin of color; abscess/diagnosis; cutaneous abscess; bacterial infections; cellulitis/diagnosis; furunculosis; carbuncle; erythema; Fitzpatrick skin types


Dermatology | Medical Education | Primary Care


Cutaneous abscesses are collections of pus resulting from skin and soft tissue bacterial infections. They clinically exhibit the four cardinal inflammatory signs of pain, warmth, swelling, and erythema. In patients with darkly pigmented skin, classically-associated erythema may be challenging to appreciate and can lead to missed or delayed diagnosis. We compare abscess presentations in different skin types. Recognition of varying presentations of cutaneous abscesses in diverse skin colors will help clinicians utilize additional clues to identify and diagnose this entity correctly.