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Incision and Drainage


Incision and drainage (I & D) is a procedure to drain a pocket of fluid, such as pus or blood.



You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Prescription pain medication may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Your healthcare provider may ask you to take pain medicine ½ hour before your follow-up visit for wound care.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 to 3 days, or as directed:

You may need to return to have your incision cleaned and your bandages changed. Your healthcare provider will make sure your wound is healing well. Ask how to care for your wound at home. Bring a list of your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Wound care:

Keep your wound clean and dry as directed by your healthcare provider:

  • Wash your hands before and after you touch or clean your wound.
  • Flush or soak your wound as directed.
  • Check your wound for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, and pain.
  • Change the packing or bandages as directed. Ask for more information about what type of bandages to use.

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 decrease swelling and pain. Prop your arm or leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Wear a splint as directed:

You may need to wear a splint if your wound is on your hand, arm, or leg. A splint limits movement and helps your wound heal. Do not remove the splint until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have fever or chills.
  • You feel more tired than usual.
  • Fluid builds up again and creates a pocket in the same area.
  • Your wound becomes red, swollen, and painful.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have red streaks or extreme pain near your wound.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have pain in your back, stomach, muscles, or joints.

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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.

Learn more about Incision and Drainage (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

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