Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Abscess Skin Treatment

Treatment for a skin abscess includes warm compresses, gentle skin cleansing, antibiotics, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Surgery is often required to drain pus from the abscess.

Another important factor is the potential for antibiotic resistance. Methicillin-resistant staph infections (MRSA infections) are more serious because they require treatment with more potent antibiotics.

Specific treatment for a skin abscess may include:


Incision and drainage includes:
  • The skin is sterilized using rubbing alcohol or an antibacterial soap.
  • A local anesthetic is injected into the tissues surrounding the abscess.
  • An incision is made with a scalpel.
  • Pus is drained from the abscess.
  • The abscess cavity is flushed clean.
  • In some cases, a rubber drain or a strip of sterile gauze is packed inside the abscess cavity.
  • The gauze or drain placed inside the abscess cavity is usually removed 24-36 hours later.

For more information:

Abscess Skin Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of skin abscess.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for another skin abscess?
  • Will I need to see my doctor for a checkup?

Abscess Skin Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat a skin abscess:

Continue to Abscess Skin Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 14, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Abscess Skin References
  1. Hedrick J. Acute bacterial skin infections in pediatric medicine: current issues in presentation and treatment. Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5 Suppl 1:35-46. [14632104]
  2. Laube S, Farrell AM. Bacterial skin infections in the elderly: diagnosis and treatment. Drugs Aging. 2002;19(5):331-42. [12093320]
  3. Llera JL, Levy RC. Treatment of cutaneous abscess: a double-blind clinical study. Ann Emerg Med. 1985 Jan;14(1):15-9. [3880635]
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