An abscess is a fluid- or pus-filled bump on the skin, most often resulting from bacterial infection. Abscesses are most commonly caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria, which enters the skin through hair follicles or broken skin.
Due to potential risk of infection, abscesses should never be drained at home. Small abscesses are common and typically resolve on their own. Large, painful abscesses often require medical intervention.
Healthcare providers are trained in isolating infection and preventing the spread of infection to other areas of the body. They also have access to a sterile working environment and appropriate sterile equipment. Always seek medical treatment for the surgical drainage of abscesses.
Most small abscesses resolve on their own without medical intervention or complications. However, serious abscesses left untreated pose significant risk of complications to the patient, including potential for:
· Central nervous system infection (meningitis)
· Sepsis or poisoning of the blood
· Infection in the lining of the heart (endocarditis)
· Gangrene or other death of tissue near the abscess
· Infection of surrounding bone
It is important to visit a healthcare provider if an abscess does not go away on its own before becoming large or painful.
Without local anesthesia, abscess drainage can be very painful. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area and limit or eliminate pain for the patient. Local anesthesia is safe and non-invasive.
Patients will leave the clinic with instructions for pain management at home. Some pain management methods may include the use of heat packs and pain medications. Patients may be required to limit physical activity during the healing process. The home care plan is designed to anticipate and prevent pain before it occurs, so patients should take special care to follow the doctor’s suggestions even when they are not experiencing pain.
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