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Why You Should Never Treat an Abscess at Home

Why You Should Never Treat an Abscess at Home

Abscesses are pockets of pus that form as a result of an infection, usually a bacterial infection. Without medical treatment, an abscess can cause serious medical problems, including more widespread infections in your organs and other tissues. 

A leading wound specialist in San Antonio, Texas, Manjulatha Badam, MD, CWSP, UHM, helps patients at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic and Hyperbarics get the abscess care they need to get rid of the infection and prevent complications. 

Here, Dr. Badam explains why seeking medical care is a far better option than trying to treat an abscess on your own.

Abscess basics

While abscesses can occur nearly anywhere in the body, they often appear on the skin. Most skin abscesses form when a pathogen, like bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, enter a wound on your skin. 

The wound can be very tiny — just large enough for germs to get inside and multiply.

Once the germs begin to multiply, your body’s immune system kicks in, sending out special white blood cells to fight the germs and protect your body. These cells collect around the infected area, causing inflammation along with the red, swollen, tender symptoms associated with abscesses. 

As the immune system reaction continues, inflammation causes a pus pocket to form. Pus is made up of dead immune system cells, dead tissue, germs, and fluids. In order to heal, the abscess must be drained of pus, and sometimes the pocket needs to be medically cleaned out.

Medical treatment for your abscess

Occasionally, an abscess located near the surface of the skin may resolve with simple home care — mainly, applying warm compresses to the area. Never squeeze or drain an abscess at home, since this can allow the infection to spread and cause widespread complications.

Deeper abscesses or any abscess that doesn’t go away with home care requires prompt medical treatment. We use special techniques to drain the abscess, eliminate the infection, and prevent it from spreading.

We drain abscesses on an outpatient basis. After numbing your skin with a local anesthetic, we make a tiny incision into the abscess, drain the pus, and then clean the wound, using a dressing to keep the area clean. 

For bacterial infections, we frequently prescribe antibiotics to destroy any remaining germs.

For more serious skin infections or abscesses in the brain, we frequently recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Most patients benefit from a series of 10-40 treatments to promote complete healing of the area.

Don’t ignore an abscess

Abscesses are more serious than many other types of skin infections, and they need medical care to get better. To learn how we can help, call 210-651-1112 or book an appointment online today at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic and Hyperbarics in San Antonio, Texas.

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