Difference Between Abscess and Ulcer (With Table)

When it is about lesions, it is easy to get confused between Abscess and Ulcer. Both can happen on the skin surface that causes pain and discomfort even with little movement.

Both are sores that can happen in the digestive organs and the organs that are connected to the digestive tract. Apart from this, both abscesses and ulcers are very different.

Abscess vs Ulcer

The main difference between Abscess and Ulcer is that Abscess is a sore that is swollen and has pus accumulated in it. On the other hand, an Ulcer is a sore or a lesion that is open and has a burning sensation.

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An abscess is surrounded by a tender area of mass and is either pink or deep red. Usually, an abscess appears on the outer side of the skin. It is also easy to feel an abscess. There is no specific area where an abscess can appear. It can be treated with medication to drain the pus. Then the wound can heal.

An ulcer is an open lesion that can happen either inside or outside the body. It happens due to many reasons like nervousness, stress, or a gastrointestinal infection. Ulcers are treated with antibiotics.

Comparison Table Between Abscess and Ulcer

Parameters of comparisonAbscessUlcer
DefinitionAn abscess is a closed sore or swollen area on the skin surface filled with pus.An ulcer is an open lesion that can happen due to an infection inside the body or even outside the body.
TypesThe different types of an abscess include Bartholin gland abscess, Pilonidal abscess, or dental abscess.The different types of ulcers include leg and foot ulcers, bedsores, genital ulcers, corneal ulcers, stomach ulcers, and mouth ulcers.
Place of occurrenceAn abscess appears on the outer skin layer like around a tooth, in the groin area.An ulcer can appear both inside and outside of the body. It can appear inside the mouth, around the eye, or even inside the stomach.
Easy to happen toAn abscess can happen to a person who is suffering from diabetes or AIDS.An ulcer can easily happen to someone who consumes hot and spicy food daily or someone who is very prone to acidity.
CausesAn abscess can mostly happen due to a bacterial infection along with a weak immune system.The cause of ulcers is the bacterium helicobacter pylori. It can also happen because of the overuse of drugs with a higher power.
TreatmentThe treatment of an abscess includes tending to the infected area along with the antibiotics.The treatment of ulcers includes mostly medicines and cutting down on acidic and spicy food items.

What is Abscess?

When an area upon the skin gets swollen with pus inside that causes pain and itching, it is said to be an abscess. Usually, the main reason behind an abscess is a bacterial infection. However, other reasons can be the cause for abscess.

For example, a person suffering from high sugar levels will be more prone to having an abscess. There are various symptoms that one can look for to make sure it is a case of an abscess. The symptoms include a reddish swollen area that might also seem yellowish in the middle, pain in the swollen area, chills, and high temperature.

Since the root cause of an abscess is a bacterial infection, it is necessary to keep oneself clean to avoid such infection from happening. Plus, having a strong immunity can lower the chances of an abscess appearing.

In case of an abscess, the patient can visit a general physician and get the pus in the abscess cleaned and put in bandages. The physician might also provide medication to treat the abscess.

What is Ulcer?

An ulcer is a lesion that is open which is circular with edges that are pink or red. The inside of the lesion is generally white, and touching it can be painful. It starts like a breakout and then over the next few days can grow in the size.

The occurrence is mostly inside the lining of the stomach and the gastrointestinal tract. Apart from that, it can also happen inside the mouth which can make talking or consuming food painful.

Different types of ulcers will define where the ulcer might appear. Apart from the common appearance of an ulcer in the stomach or mouth, it can also tend to happen on the leg and foot area and also on the back.

The most common symptoms of an ulcer are vomiting, extreme loss of weight, back pain, blood in the stool, low consumption needs, feeling full, discomfort while eating or drinking, stomach pain, etc.

Main Differences Between Abscess and Ulcer

  1. An abscess is like a sore that is closed and filled with pus. On the other hand, an ulcer is a lesion-like breakout that is open and bare.
  2. An abscess majorly happens on the outer surface of the body. Whereas ulcers mostly tend to happen inside the body.
  3. The main symptoms of an abscess are fever, pain in the infected area, and chills. While the symptoms of ulcers include vomiting, reduced appetite, and blood in the stool.
  4. An abscess can occur if the person whose immunity is weak contracts a bacterial infection. On the other hand, an ulcer can happen due to overuse of anti-inflammatory drugs or high consumption of spicy food over time.
  5. Treating an abscess can be done by treating the wound by removing pus and taking antibiotics. While an ulcer is much more complex as it can take a very long time to treat with antibiotics.


Good immunity and a healthy lifestyle are the key aspects to avoid the occurrence of both abscesses and ulcers. The most uncanny thing about abscesses and ulcers is that abscesses can be treated without the chance of returning.

On the other hand, there are chances of ulcers reappearing over time. In some cases, it is also possible that a person might have to live with ulcers for their whole life.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/564343
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12328-013-0417-7

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