Skin abscess

  • Alternative Names

    Abscess - skin; Cutaneous abscess; Subcutaneous abscess


    Moist heat (such as warm compresses) may speed healing and may help a skin abscess drain. DO NOT push and squeeze on the abscess.

    The doctor may cut open and drain the abscess, after placing some numbing medicine in the area. Packing material may be left in wound to help it heal and not close over again..

    Antibiotics are given by mouth to control the infection.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most skin abscesses can be cured with proper treatment. More often now, the bacteria does not respond to regular antibiotics. This is called methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA).

    • Prevention of the proper functioning of nearby tissues
    • Spread of infection around the same area or throughout the body
    • Spread of infection through the bloodstream, causing:
      • Abscess formation on the joints or other locations
      • Endocarditis
      • Many new abscesses ("seeding" of infection)
      • Osteomyelitis
    • Tissue death (gangrene)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any signs of skin infection, including:

    • Drainage of any kind
    • Fever
    • Pain
    • Redness
    • Swelling

    Also call for an appointment if you develop new symptoms during or after treatment for a skin abscess.