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Abscess Incision and Drainage

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I 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 do I 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, feel painful, 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.

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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