Abscess Drainage

Abscess Drainage

We perform incision and drainage (I & D) of abscesses in our clinic. An Abscess is a collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissues. Most abscesses are found on the extremities, buttocks, breast, under the armpit and groin. Abscesses form when bacteria break into the skin. The body fights the infection and the residual dead bacteria turn into pus. When this collects, the body walls it off and an abscess forms. The two most common bacteria that lead to abscess formation are Staphylococcus (Staph) and Streptococcus (Strep).

How do I treat an abscess? Abscesses heal by draining.  The treatment is normally through a procedure called an I & D or incision and drainage. Some smaller abscesses may resolve on their own with warm compresses and antibiotics. However, the larger ones usually require I & D.

What to expect when you come to our clinic: The healthcare provider will make sure you understand the procedure thoroughly and will answer any questions you might have. You will then be given a consent form to sign, giving the provider permission to perform the procedure.

First, the abscessed area will be cleaned and anesthetized so we can continue the procedure without causing you significant pain. Because the abscess is infected and inflamed, it is sometimes hard to numb the area, but we have performed many I&Ds with successful pain control.
Next, we will make an incision in the abscess. The abscess will be drained of the pus inside and irrigated.
Finally, we will pack the wound with a gauze to keep it open. This prevents the incision from closing prematurely, before the abscess completely drains, and wards off infection. If the wound closes before it is completely drained, the abscess will just reform.

What to expect after an I & D: This procedure is normally free from complications. If the wound was packed with gauze, then you will have to return to our clinic to have the packing inside the wound changed out every 1-2 days until the abscess cavity has drained and healed adequately. During this time, we will ensure that you are on your way to healing successfully, as we will be monitoring the wound each time you come in for follow up care. You will receive aftercare instructions, but you must keep the wound clean, dry, and covered. You will likely be put on a course of oral antibiotics to further treat the infection.