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Treatment of Abscesses

A skin abscess is a pus-filled area of infection below the skin, for example a boil. They can vary in size from less than 1 inch to several inches. A skin abscess is painful and tender to touch. The skin surrounding the abscess may also look red and feel warm. A skin abscess may burst through the skin or gradually subside without bursting. The infection can spread to the surrounding areas of your skin (cellulitis). You may feel unwell and have a fever. Skin abscesses are commonly found on areas where there is hair, including the face, neck, groin, armpit and bottom. You are more likely to get skin abscesses if you are obese or have a skin condition or diabetes.

What Happens during a Skin Abscess Drainage?
Skin abscess drainage usually takes between 5 and 15 minutes. Our surgeon will make a small cut in your abscess. This allows all of the puss to drain out. He or she will make sure that the pus drains properly to prevent the abscess coming back or the infection spreading to other areas. Once the pus has been drained, our surgeon will clean out the abscess with saline solution. This is a sterile salt solution that helps to ensure that all the pus has been removed. The abscess will then be packed with a dressing. This will allow further drainage of pus and is usually removed 1 to 2 days after the procedure. Your wound will then be covered with a sterile dressing.

What can I Expect Afterwards?
Following a local anaesthetic, it may take several hours before the feeling returns to the treated area. Take special care not to bump or knock the area. You will usually be able to go home when you feel ready. You may be given a date for a follow up appointment. You may also notice some fluid and pus escaping from the wound and dressing.

Recovering from a Skin Abscess Drainage
If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You will also be required to take antibiotics if the infection has spread, or if you have a weakened immune system or a fever. Once the pus has been drained, the abscess should heal within 2 weeks, depending on its size. You can often return to work if you have no problems with the dressing and depending on what type of job you do. This will also depend on the site of the adscess.

You are unlikely to get any side-effects after a skin abscess drainage, but you may find there is some pain in the area that was drained.

Possible complications of skin abscess drainage include scarring from the abscess, which may vary depending on your skin type and the type of cut used. If you notice redness and swelling or you have a fever, please contact Cedar House Clinic. Your abscess may need to be drained again or you may need different antibiotics e.g. for resistant bacteria.

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