Abscess (Boil) Drainage

If you have a boil, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can to minimize the pain and risk of infection. At Borealis Dermatology, our providers can treat your boil with a drainage.

What are Abscesses/Boils?

A skin abscess or boils are pus-filled lumps around a hair follicle that result from a bacterial infection. They are pockets of pus that are larger and deeper under the skin. They contain bacteria, white blood cells, and dead skin cells and can occur anywhere on the body but most often occur along the face, chest, underarms, back, groin, and buttocks. 

Did you know…

A boil is the non-medical term for an abscess. There are two main types of abscesses – furuncle and carbuncle.  Abscesses can grow in any solid tissue, such as the lungs, gums, tonsils, brains, and kidneys, but most often occur in the skin. In the skin, they usually start as bumpy, red, pus-filled lumps around a hair follicle. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Abscesses/Boils Develop?

Skin abscesses/boils occur due to the body attempting to protect itself from infection by creating a wall around the pimple. The abscess/boil wall seals the infected tissues from healthy cells as a defense reaction to prevent the pus from affecting other tissues. However, it also prevents immune cells from attacking the bacteria in the pus, increasing pain and inflammation. 

What Causes Abscesses/Boils?

Bacteria usually cause abscesses, typically the Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. When these bacteria penetrate the skin through minor cuts, hair follicles, and wound edges, they cause infections. Other causes for abscesses can include parasites and foreign materials such as splinters, thorns, and injection needles.  

How is an Abscess/Boil Drainage Performed? 

If small enough, abscesses can usually shrink naturally or be treated with antibiotics. For larger abscesses, your provider would recommend a drainage of the pus inside. When you consult with our providers, he will assess the abscess/boil and provide details for the drainage procedure, pain medications, and after-care instructions. 

During the drainage, the provider will numb the area with a local anesthetic during the procedure and apply an antiseptic solution to protect the area. Then, the abscess/boil will be incised and drained. A sample of the pus will be taken for a bacterial culture in order to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection. This allows the provider to prescribe the appropriate antibiotics, best fit to fight the bacteria. Once the open wound is drained, the area will be packed, if needed, with gauze to allow the cavity to drain further. You will need to follow up every few days to change the gauze and monitor the healing process.

How Can I Prevent Abscesses/Boils?

After the drainage, the wound area should be washed with antibacterial soaps and have the bandage changed daily. You can visit your physician for antibiotics once you see an onset of an abscess as well. As a daily prevention, you should wash hands frequently with antibacterial soaps. Our providers can also offer long-term care solutions for those suffering from frequent abscesses/boils. 

Contact Borealis Dermatology to schedule an appointment with one of our providers to see if you are a candidate for an abscess drainage. Borealis Dermatology offers two convenient locations to provide various treatments for our patients in the Queens and Long Island areas. You can experience the highest medical and aesthetic expertise available through our treatment options by visiting our clinic.