Skip to main content

Abscess Incision and Drainage

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.


What you need to know about an abscess incision and drainage:

An abscess incision and drainage (I and D) is a procedure to drain pus from an abscess and clean it out so it can heal.

How to prepare for an I and D:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for an I and D. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your I and D.

What will happen during an I and D:

You will be given local or regional anesthesia to numb the area and keep you free from pain. Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your skin near or over the abscess. He or she will press on the area to drain the pus. A cotton swab or other medical tool wrapped in gauze may be used to clean the inside of the abscess. Your healthcare provider may wash the wound with saline (salt water). He or she may place plain gauze or gauze with medicine in your wound to help it heal. A dry bandage will be placed over your wound. You may be given antibiotics to treat the infection.

What are the risks of an I and D:

A scar may form on your skin as it heals. Your incision may heal slowly or get infected. Your abscess may come back, even after treatment. You may need another I and D if the abscess comes back. The bacteria may spread to your heart or other organs. This can be life-threatening.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • The area around your abscess has red streaks or is warm and painful.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have increased redness, swelling, or pain in your wound.
  • Your wound does not start to heal after a few days.
  • Your abscess returns.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


, such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

Care for your wound as directed:

  • Do not remove your bandage unless your healthcare provider says it is okay. Keep the bandage clean and dry. Remove your bandage and clean the wound once your healthcare provider gives you directions.
  • Apply heat on the bandage over your wound for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. This will increase blood flow to the area and help it heal.
  • Elevate your wound above level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your wounded area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return in 1 to 3 days to have the gauze in your wound removed and your wound examined. You may be taught how to change the gauze in your wound. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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.

Further information

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