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Abscess Incision And Drainage


An abscess is an area under the skin where pus collects. An abscess incision and drainage (I and D) is a procedure to drain the pus. An abscess is most commonly caused by bacteria and can occur anywhere on the body.



  • 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.
  • 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.

Wound care:

  • Bandage: Do not remove your bandage unless your primary healthcare provider (PHP) says it is okay. Keep the bandage clean and dry. Remove your bandage and clean the wound once your PHP gives you directions.
  • Packing: Ask your PHP how to pack and change the gauze in your wound. Keep track of how many gauze dressings are inside the wound when you remove the packing. Do not pack more gauze than directed into the wound. This can damage the tissue.
  • Warm soaks: Soak your abscess in warm, clean water for 20 to 30 minutes every day, for 1 week. Ask your PHP when to start warm soaks.

Wear a splint:

You may need a splint if the abscess is on your arm, hand, or leg. A splint limits movement and helps your wound heal. Do not remove the splint until your first follow-up visit or as directed.

Elevate your wound:

If your wound is on your arm or leg, keep it raised above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help reduce swelling. Prop your arm or leg on 2 pillows.

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

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

Contact your primary healthcare provider or surgeon if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You feel more tired than usual.
  • Your abscess returns.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The area around your abscess has red streaks or is warm and painful.
  • You are bleeding from your wound and cannot stop it.
  • You have back or stomach pain.
  • Your muscles or joints ache.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.