Skin Abscess 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:
- Warm compresses
- Clean the skin thoroughly twice a day:
- Use mild soap and water.
- Do not scrub the abscess.
- Do not squeeze the abscess.
- Antibiotics for skin abscess:
- More commonly prescribed when there is cellulitis surrounding the skin abscess.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Ibuprin, Nuprin)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn)
- Ketoprofen (Oruvail, Orudis, Actron)
- Narcotic pain medication:
- Incision and drainage for skin abscess
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:
Skin Abscess 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?
Skin Abscess Specialist
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat a skin abscess:
Continue to Skin Abscess Home Care
- Hedrick J. Acute bacterial skin infections in pediatric medicine: current issues in presentation and treatment. Paediatr Drugs. 2003;5 Suppl 1:35-46. 
- Laube S, Farrell AM. Bacterial skin infections in the elderly: diagnosis and treatment. Drugs Aging. 2002;19(5):331-42. 
- Llera JL, Levy RC. Treatment of cutaneous abscess: a double-blind clinical study. Ann Emerg Med. 1985 Jan;14(1):15-9.