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Abscess

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Medical Treatment

The doctor may open and drain the abscess.

  • The area around the abscess will be numbed with medication.
    • It is often difficult to completely numb the area, but in general local anesthesia can make the procedure almost painless.
    • You may be given some type of sedative if the abscess is large.
  • The area will be covered with an antiseptic solution and sterile towels placed around it.
  • The doctor will cut open the abscess and totally drain it of pus and debris.
  • Once the sore has drained, the doctor will insert some packing into the remaining cavity to minimize any bleeding and keep it open for a day or two.
    • A bandage will then be placed over the packing, and you will be given instructions about home care.
    • Most people feel better immediately after the abscess is drained.
    • If you are still experiencing pain, the doctor may prescribe pain pills for home use over the next 1-2 days.

Next Steps: Follow-up

Follow carefully any instructions your doctor gives you.

  • The doctor may have you remove the packing yourself with instructions on the best way to do this. This may include soaking or flushing.
  • Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments.
  • Report any fever, redness, swelling, or increased pain to your doctor immediately.

Prevention

Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your skin with soap and water regularly.

  • Take care to avoid nicking yourself when shaving your underarms or pubic area.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for any puncture wounds, especially if:
    • You think there may be some debris in the wound
    • You have one of the listed medical conditions
    • You are on steroids or chemotherapy

Outlook

Once treated, the abscess should heal.

  • Many people do not require antibiotics.
  • The pain often improves immediately and subsides more each day.
  • Wound care instructions from your doctor may include wound repacking, soaking, washing, or bandaging for about 7 to 10 days. This usually depends on the size and severity of the abscess.
  • After the first 2 days, drainage from the abscess should be minimal to none. All sores should heal in 10-14 days.

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