Skin & Soft Tissue

What is an abscess?

An abscess is confined pocket of infection containing pus. Pus is a combination of bacteria and cells your body is using to fight off the infection.

Can I just take antibiotics?

Some smaller abscesses may resolve with antibiotics alone, but as the body works to trap the infection from the remainder of the body, antibiotics may not be able to reach the bacteria.

What is an incision and drainage (I&D)?

An incision and drainage is a procedure normally performed in an office setting (but occasionally in an operating room) where the confined pocket is opened and the infection is expelled.

What is packing?

Packing is the use of gauze or some other material to keep the prior pocket open for a short time. The body can normally heal well from infections so long as the bacteria doesn’t get trapped beneath the skin. Packing may help put pressure on a fresh incision to minimize bleeding and, more importantly, it will keep the incision from closing TOO quick.

How do I care for my wound after I&D?

Your physician will give you specific guidance for your wound. However, some general principles include: shower daily allowing water to run past the incision, simply pat the area dry once completed, apply a dressing once to twice daily primarily to keep your clothes clean or as needed, remove any packing as recommended by your physician. Continue to take antibiotics if recommended by the physician who performed the I&D.

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