I've been trying to locate information since you posted your question,
and found very little information discussing the causes of urethral
abcess that didn't mention bladder or urinary tract infections, or
sexually transmitted diseases.
Then you said the magic words: "she's a waitress".
Before I continue, please do keep in mind that Google Answers is not
intended to be anything more than general information. In spite of
your daughter's lack of health coverage, it's imperative that she get
in to see a doctor to make sure she's not suffering from something
Her working conditions may be contributing to these infections.
Having spent my working life before my children were born as a
waitress, I'm very much aware of what waitresses put up with in order
to earn a living - including infrequent to non-existent bathroom
breaks. It isn't unusual to be expected to "hold your water"
throughout your shift. Many waitresses abstain from drinking more
than a few sips of water throughout their shifts, so as not to be
uncomfortable and distracted by the need to urinate in the middle of
This combination tends to have unpleasant consequences.
A frequent cause of urinary tract infections is "holding it" for a
long period after the urge to urinate has manifested. This causes
bacteria to build up in the bladder and the urethra, which typically
leads to infection. Restricting fluids leads to urine becoming more
concentrated, which also contributes to bacteria remaining in the
bladder and urethra longer. Reduced urinary frequency means fewer
opportunities to flush the bacteria out, and the longer the bacteria
remains, the meaner and more stubborn it will get.
Sometimes, a urinary tract infection can fester unnoticed (not all of
them will cause the usual burning, aching symptoms), paving the way
for a urethral abcess.
Your daughter can help herself keep these infections at bay without too much fuss:
-- Drink plenty of *water*. At least eight 8oz. glasses of water a
day, and extra when she's exerting herself (i.e. during dinner rush at
the restaurant). Supplement this with fruit juices high in Vitamin C
(cranberry, blueberry and orange juice). These juices help make urine
more acidic, which makes it difficult for bacteria to cling to
-- Avoid alcohol. As colleague tlspiegel has noted below, alcohol
will irritate the urinary tract. If she's unwilling to abstain
altogether, she needs to be certain to only *rarely* indulge, and when
she does, she needs to make certain to drink plenty of water as well.
-- Cut back on smoking, or quit altogether. According to the BBC,
women who smoke are 29% more likely to have urinary tract problems!
-- DON'T "hold your water". When the urge to urinate manifests, she
should relieve herself as soon as possible. If her boss is of the
evil, pointy haired variety that will reprimand her if she takes five
minutes to hit the head, have her get a note from a physician stating
that she is *not* to be kept from using the restroom as necessary.
Restaurant managers comply with doctor's notes, because they fear
being sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act - a federal law
requiring employers to make reasonable accomodations for an employee's
illness or disablity.
This is the most easily managed possible cause of these infections.
Keep in mind, however, that there are other, more serious
possibilities, which is why she needs to see a physician as soon as
she can (more on how she can do that in a minute):
-- diabetes (changes in the immune system render diabetics more
susceptible to urinary disorders)
-- Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis or chlamydia
-- untreated (or unnoticed) candida (yeast infection)
With the exception of candida, these are not self-diagnosable or
self-treatable. She needs to go see a doctor to have these completely
Being uninsured need not be a bar to seeking treatment. She need only
go to the nearest Planned Parenthood facility for an STD screening and
a full physical and gynecological exam, which will include a full
range of blood tests as well as a thorough physical examination:
Locate a Clinic
The *only* way to know for certain is to see a physician. There's no
way around that. Fortunately, Planned Parenthood health center fees
are determined by a sliding scale, based on your income, to ensure
affordable and accessible women's health care.
Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infections
Ask the Doctor
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
UTI - Who Is At Risk?
How Is Urinary Tract Infection Treated?
Causes - Symptoms - Treatments
STDs and Family Planning
I hope this information is helpful to you *and* your daughter,
Charlotte. If you need further assistance, please just ask for
clarification. I'll be glad to help. I wish you both the best.
Search terms: [ "urethral abscess" cause ], [ "urethral abscess" ], [ UTI ]