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Actinomycosis

Overview

An infection, commonly of the face and neck, that produces abscesses and open draining sinuses.


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Causes

Actinomycosis is caused by an anaerobic (disliking oxygen) bacterium called Actinomyces israelii. This is a common andnormally non-pathogenic (not disease-causing) organism found in the nose and throat. Its normal location in the nose andthroat account for actinomycosis most commonly appearing in the face and neck. Because this organism is normal for people,the infection is not contagious.Actinomyces produces disease when it is introduced into the facial tissues by trauma, surgery or infection. Once in the tissue itforms an abscess producing a hard red to reddish purple lump, often on the jaw, from which comes the name lumpy jaw.Eventually the abscess breaks through the skin surface to produce a draining sinus tract. Actinomycosis may occasionally occurin the chest (pulmonary actinomycosis) and abdomen or other areas of the body.


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Signs & Symptoms

a swelling or hard red to reddish-purple lump appearing on the face or upper neck (see neck lumps)- pain is minimal to absent- draining sores in the skin.

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Prevention

Maintain good oral hygiene.


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Treatments
Drug Therapy or Surgery Modern Medicine

Treatment for actinomyces is long term, with 1 to 2 months of penicillin given through a vein, followed by 6 months ofpenicillin taken by mouth. Other drugs such as erythromycin and tetracycline have been effective. tetracycline is usuallynot prescribed for children until after all the permanent teeth have erupted; it can permanently discolor teeth that are stillforming.Surgical drainage of the lesion may be required.

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