Skip to Content



An abscess is an area under the skin where pus (infected fluid) collects. An abscess is often caused by bacteria. You can get an abscess anywhere on your body.



  • Medicines may help decrease pain or treat a bacterial infection.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Soak your abscess in warm, clean water as often as directed:

You also may apply a moist cloth to the abscess. This will help the abscess heal. If the abscess needs to be drained, warm soaks can help get it ready.

Care for your incision after drainage:

  • Care for you wound as directed. If you can remove your bandage, carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

  • Ask your healthcare provider how to change the gauze in your wound. Keep track of how many gauze dressings are placed inside the wound. Do not overpack or put too much pressure on the packing.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 to 3 days:

You may need to have your packing removed or your bandage changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your abscess returns.

  • The area around your abscess has red streaks or is warm and painful.

  • You have back or stomach pain. You may have aches in your muscles or joints.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The area around your abscess becomes very painful, red, or swollen all of a sudden.

  • You have blisters filled with blood, or your skin makes a crackling sound.

  • You have a high fever or chills.

  • You have pain in your rectum or pelvis.

  • You are very sweaty, or your heart feels like it is fluttering.

  • You feel faint or confused.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.