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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. Your abscess may drain on its own or may need to be drained by your primary healthcare provider.



  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better.

  • 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.

Care for your abscess:

  • Warm soaks: Soak your abscess in warm, clean water. Do this as often as directed. You also may apply a moist cloth to the abscess. This will help the abscess drain and heal.

Care for your incision after drainage:

  • Wound care: Keep the bandage clean and dry. Do not remove the bandage over your wound unless your primary healthcare provider says it is okay. If you can remove your bandage, clean the wound as often as directed. If you cannot reach the wound, ask someone to help you.

  • Packing: Ask your primary healthcare provider how to pack and change gauze in your wound. Keep track of how many gauze dressings are placed inside the cavity whenever you do your wound care. Do not overpack or put too much pressure on the packing.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or a dermatologist 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 primary 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.

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.

© 2014 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.

Learn more about Abscess (Aftercare Instructions)