Having an abscess or boil can be painful and, for some, visually undesirable. Although typically caused by infection, they generally will not disappear on their own or even with antibiotics. The best treatment is to have it drained and removed by a physician.
Common Causes of Abscesses
An abscess is the result of an inflammatory response to an infection after bacteria has entered the skin. These usually occur if the sweat or oil glands are obstructed, there is an inflamed hair follicle, or bacteria entered through a minor skin puncture. When the infection is triggered, a cavity forms to help prevent it from spreading to other areas of the body, but inside, pus and swelling develop, leading to the pressure, pain and inflammation.
Treatment and Removal of an Abscess
In order to rid the body completely of the infection, it is important to have an abscess properly drained and removed. Although antibiotics alone won’t do the trick, you may need to begin a course to help treat the infection itself and prevent it from developing elsewhere. For most, the treatment of an abscess is done easily in the office, but in the event of a severe infection, you may be referred to a hospital.
Before removal begins, the doctor will clean and sterilize the area and provide local anesthetic near the incision area for comfort. Once ready, a small incision is made in the skin located over the abscess to allow for drainage of the pus from within the pocket. After it has been drained, the pocket will be cleaned with a sterile saline solution and the incision is left open, but will be covered with bandaging to absorb any pus the body may produce after the procedure. For larger abscesses, you may require gauze packing to be inserted into the pocket to absorb pus and blood, as well as keep the abscess open for healing. If the doctor is unsure of the cause of your abscess, a sample of the pus may be sent to a lab to determine if it is in fact due to bacterial infection or a different underlying cause.
Healing after Abscess Removal
After having an abscess removed, the healing process will vary for each person. As long as the abscess was in an area that does not impede your driving ability, and you were not placed under general anesthesia for treatment, you are able to drive yourself home from the procedure. A bandage will need to stay over the incision anywhere from a few days to a week, depending upon the size of the abscess. Within that time, if it becomes soaked with extra drainage, be sure to regularly change the bandage to promote healing. If the abscess required gauze to be packed within the pocket, the doctor will request you return within a few days to remove the old gauze and repack with new. Experiencing pus drainage for a day or two after the procedure is normal.
Depending on the initial infection cause, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, and if it was particularly large or difficult, you may also require pain medication for a few days. During the first few days after the procedure, you can help speed up the healing process at home by applying a warm, dry compress, such as a heating pad on low, over the incision site three to four times per day. Your doctor will discuss proper cleaning and home care with you following the procedure. The entire healing process depends on the size and severity of the abscess, generally taking one to two weeks.
If you believe you have an abscess that requires treatment, don’t wait around in pain, hoping it will resolve itself. Visit us today at one of our convenient Midwest Express Clinic locations for removal and treatment.