Abscess Treatment: Self-Care at Home
- If the abscess is small (less than 1 cm or less than a half-inch across), applying warm compresses to the area for about 30 minutes 4 times daily may help.
- Do not attempt to drain the abscess by squeezing or pressing on it. This can push the infected material into the deeper tissues.
- Do not stick a needle or other sharp instrument into the abscess center, because you may injure an underlying blood vessel or cause the infection to spread.
When to Seek Medical Care
Call your doctor if any of the following occur with an abscess:
- You have a sore larger than 1 cm or a half-inch across.
- The sore continues to enlarge or becomes more painful.
- The sore is on or near your rectal or groin area.
- You have a fever of 101.5°F or higher.
- You have a red streak going away from the abscess.
- You have any of the medical conditions listed above.
Go to a hospital’s Emergency Department if any of these conditions occur with an abscess:
- Fever of 102°F or higher, especially if you have a chronic disease or are on steroids, chemotherapy, or dialysis
- A red streak leading away from the sore or with tender lymph nodes (lumps) in an area anywhere between the abscess and your chest area (for example, an abscess on your leg can cause swollen lymph nodes in your groin area)
- Any facial abscess larger than 1 cm or a half-inch across
Exams and Tests
The doctor will take a medical history and may ask you:
- How long the abscess has been present
- If you recall any injury to that area
- What medicines you may be taking
- If you have any allergies
- If you have had a fever at home
The doctor will examine the abscess and surrounding areas. If it is near your anus, the doctor will perform a rectal exam. If an arm or leg is involved, the doctor will feel for a lymph gland either in your groin or under your arm.