A rare long-term (chronic) bacterial infection that commonly affects the face and neck is Actinomycosis. It can be severe, but with antibiotics, it can resolve.
Causes and Symptoms
The bacteria that render Actinomycosis typically live harmlessly in the body.
- Jaw or mouth: dental surgery, tooth decay, an injury
- Lungs: inhaling foods contaminated with the bacteria
- Tummy: burst appendix, surgery
- Pelvis: leaving an IUD contraceptive coil inside for a more extended period
The infection is noncontagious.
The infection can infect any body part, but the head, neck, chest, tummy, and pelvis are most commonly affected.
- Shortness of breath
- Lumps on your cheek or neck
- Difficulty chewing
- Chest pain
- Abscess leaking from small holes in your skin
- Diarrhea or constipation
- A lump or swelling in your tummy
- Vaginal bleeding or unusual discharge
Treatment for Actinomycosis
You can use antibiotics to treat Actinomycosis. Treatment starts in the hospital, where antibiotics are given directly into a vein.
When you’re well enough to go home, the doctor suggests having tablets for a few months.
It’s important to keep taking antibiotics, even when you feel better.
You might also require surgery to drain pus (abscesses) areas and cut out the surrounding area if it’s infected.
When to contact the doctor
Suppose your signs get worse or do not improve. Rush for help quickly if treatment does not seem to be working. The infection can transfer to other parts of your body and be life-threatening.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 04 October 2022