Abcesses occur when a bite, scratch or wound becomes infected. This will lead to pus being formed under the skin resulting in a lump. The bite or scratch may often go unnoticed. By the time the lump is noticed, the bite or scratch which originally became infected, may have healed thus it is often difficult to conclude whether the lump is an abscess or a tumour.
Unless a bite or scratch can be noticed by the owner on the lump then it is almost certainly an abscess. An abscess will require the pus to be drained and a course of antibiotics may be needed to treat the infection. Therefore veterinary treatment must be sought. In extreme cases it may be necessary to visit the vet regularly to drain the pus until infection clears.
Some abscesses may burst and this can increase the chances of infection making the hamster very ill. The hamster might lick and eat the pus which might cause the hamster to be terribly ill and might die from it. Therefore, even if an abscess should burst before you have the opportunity to take the hamster to a vet, it is still advisable to seek veterinary advice, as antibiotics may still be required to help fight the infection even if drainage of the abscess is not required.
Sharp objects or pieces of food that the hamster stuffs in its cheekpouches may pierce the lining of the pouch and may get stuck in it. This in turn can cause the pouch to become infected and causes an abscess to grow. However this can be tough to identify, as this can initially be mistaken for the hamster carrying food or bedding in its cheekpouch as the cheekpouch area is swollen. However, if the hamster seems to continuiously have its cheekpouches full, it may be that the pouches are impacted or an abscess within the cheekpouch has occurred and veterinary advice should be sought.
Hamsters usually recover from abscesses well and fairly quickly when treated.