Smaller skin abscesses will likely go away on their own. If you want to help this process along, holding the abscess under a warm flannel can decrease swelling and speed up healing.
If your abscess becomes larger, softer and spongier, or it’s somewhere highly visible, like your face, neck or hands, a doctor will be able to help you.
While it can be tempting to pop an abscess yourself, you should never do this. The pus inside an abscess is full of bacteria, so trying to deal with it yourself could mean you spread the infection to other areas of your body.
Larger abscesses can often be treated with antibiotics, but sometimes they get so out of control that they need to be drained.
This is done under a local anaesthetic, which numbs the affected area so the doctor can make a small cut in your skin. They’ll also thoroughly clean and dress the wound afterwards, to prevent the spread of infection. This is very much a last resort reserved only for the most serious abscesses.
If you want to prevent abscesses from occurring, the best option is to keep your skin as clean as possible. Our doctors will be happy to talk to you about good skin hygiene, or take a look at any abscesses you have and provide you with practical next steps to treat them.