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Abscess, Ambulatory Care

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.


Common signs and symptoms of an abscess include

a swollen mass that is red and painful. It may change in shape or size and become hard. Pus may leak out of the mass. The pus is white or yellow and may smell bad.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden redness, pain, or swelling around the area of your abscess
  • Blisters filled with blood
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain in your rectum or pelvis
  • Fluttering feeling in your heart
  • Feelings of faint or confusion

Treatment for an abscess

may include medicines to help decrease pain or treat a bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider may need to make a cut in the abscess to allow the pus to drain. You may need surgery to remove your abscess completely.

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 wound as directed:

  • Carefully wash the wound with soap and water if you can remove your bandage. 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 as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 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.

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