Intravenous administration of drugs is the riskiest way to use drugs. When you street drugs, the majority of the risk is related to the needle. The drugs are dangerous, and usually, there’s no way to know how strong they are or what else may be in them. It’s even unsafe to use them along with other substances like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.
Some drugs that can be injected are:
- Bath Salts
- Prescription drugs like Vicodin and Adderall
Using drugs intravenously, a person has most likely a progressed form of addiction. Besides addiction to the drug, being more likely to overdose, many other major health concerns follow the repeated injection of drugs.
Dangers of Abscesses from Injecting Drugs
Besides viruses, other health issues can come over time with repeated injection of drugs. There is the damage that can be done to internal organs of course but there are many different types of damage a user can do to their skin as well. This can be a result of injecting regularly, using potentially tainted needles, or injecting into fat or muscle by accident due to missing the vein, and injected right under the skin called “skin popping.” This can result in a painful lump that could potentially cut off blood flow to the area.
Other skins problems that can arise are:
- Heavy bruising
- Severe bacterial skin infections like cellulitis
- Fungal infections
Bacterial infections can cause serious complications and even death. If not treated. One such common bacterial infection is abscessed. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), abscesses are subcutaneous masses, filled with pus and debris, resulting from one’s bodily defenses against an outside infectious agent. Abscesses result from the introduction of an infectious agent, often Staphylococcus aureus, into the body through unsterile injection equipment or unclean skin.
As time goes on and the skin gets infected, the body’s immune system tries to fight the infection, which causes inflammation from white blood cells sent to the infection site. Pus forms from the resulting mixture of germs, dead tissue, and white blood cells, both dead and living.
Whether at home or a medical center, abscesses must be treated. Applying Keeping it free from contamination and warm compresses are important steps to take. A doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat an abscess that is large or has become infected.
Recognizing an Abscesses
Abscesses are usually easy to recognize. Abscesses are typical:
- A round or oval-shaped mass with dark puss at the center
- Located anywhere on the body, but mostly at or around the injection site
- Painful, swollen, and tender to the touch
- If allowed to grow unchecked, the abscess may spread into the bloodstream or into deeper tissues, where the septic contents can create further health complications
Complications of an Untreated Abscesses
Though skin abscesses can resolve on their own, they can lead to the following complications if left untreated:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sepsis, or the spreading of the infection throughout the body
- Skin tissue death (gangrene and possible limb amputation)
- Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart lining)
- Infection of the bone (osteomyelitis)
- Recurrent skin infection
Treating an IV Drug Use Abscesses
If an intravenous drug user is unable or unwilling to visit a physician for treatment, smaller, more superficial abscesses can be treated at home. Larger abscesses, or abscesses with surrounding red streaks, will need to be treated professionally.
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