Incision and Drainage of Abscess

Dr. Sean Yuan of Potts Surgical Associates in Pottstown, Pennsylvania offer his patients treatment for abscesses including incision and drainage.

What is an abscess?

An abscess is an area of inflammation surrounding a pocket of pus or debris that is irritating the surrounding tissue. Abscess are painful, swollen and warm to the touch, and can develop on any part of the body. They are most common in the armpits, genital and anal area, and the base of the spine. Abscesses are caused when bacteria get into a break in the skin and stimulate an inflammatory response from the body. As the inflammation puts pressure on the small wound, the middle of the abscess begins to liquefy the dead skin cells, bacteria, and other debris causing a buildup of pus.

How are abscesses treated?

Dr. Yuan can make an incision into the abscess, drain any pus, and clean the wound. He will use a local anesthetic to numb the area, making the procedure virtually painless. Before making an incision, Dr. Yuan will clean the area and cover it with an antiseptic solution. Once the abscess has been completely drained and cleaned, it is packed with sterile gauze to minimize any bleeding. Depending on the size of the abscess, the packing may need to be changed during the healing process. Dr. Yuan will provide specific instructions on aftercare to each patient.

When should I see a doctor about an abscess?

Most abscesses do not get better without medical care. They are more common in people who have a compromised immune system, the abscess forms because the body’s immune response isn’t strong enough to fight off the bacteria. However, if you have an abscess that is more than a centimeter across, or if you have a fever higher than 101F, or any red streaks leading away from the wound, you should seek medical care. If the abscess is in the genital or groin area, you should seek medical attention no matter the size. If your fever reaches higher than 102F, if you have other medical issues including needing chemotherapy or dialysis, if you have pain in your lymph nodes, or if the abscess is on your face, you should seek emergency care.

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