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 Related Terms
• Abcess
• Boil
• Carbuncle
• Furuncle
• Induration
Fluctuance is an indication of the presence of pus in a bacterial infection. As the skin gets infected redness and induration develop. The immune system works to fight off the bacteria and old, spent white blood cells collect in the skin. Certain chemicals given off by bacteria and white blood cells also accumulate under the skin forming pus. Sometimes the pus leaks out and the lesion drains, but other times the pus is prevented from draining. The skin overlying the pus remains red, but touching this area produces a soft, boggy feel. This boggy feeling is fluctuance. Often fluctuance is surrounded by induration making it even more noticeable.

In general, lesions that are fluctuant need to be incised and drained, I&D, because the chemical reactions in the pus prevent antibiotics from penetrating well into the surrounding tissues.

Pronunciation: FLUK-choo-anss • (noun)

Related Resources:

Bacterial Infections
Information about all types of bacterial skin infections.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Learn more about this chronic, scarring bacterial infection of the sweat glands.

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