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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.



  • You may be given medicines to 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.

Care for a small abscess:

Apply a moist warm cloth or soak your abscess in warm, clean water as often as directed. This may help a small abscess heal. Do not press on an abscess or try to open it with a needle. You may push the bacteria into deeper tissues or into your blood.

Care for your wound after drainage:

  • Care for you wound as directed. If you can remove your bandage, carefully remove the bandage and gauze packing. You may need to soak the gauze to get it out of your wound. Clean your wound and the area around it as directed. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages. 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 pieces of gauze are placed inside the wound. Do not overpack the wound 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.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The area around your abscess becomes very painful, warm, or has red streaks.
  • You have a fever of 101.5°F (38.6°C) or higher and chills.
  • You are very sweaty, or your heart feels like it is fluttering.
  • You feel faint or confused.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your abscess gets bigger or does not get better.
  • Your abscess returns.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

© 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.