Incision and drainage may be needed to treat a skin abscess or abscess in soft tissue, such as muscle, connective tissue and ligaments. An abscess is a warm, red, painful swelling filled with pus, a build-up of dead white blood cells, tissue debris, serum and bacteria. This material must be drained to prevent further invasion of the infection into healthy tissue surrounding the abscess.
Drainage is achieved by first prepping the area with an antiseptic and topical painkiller, then making an incision with a sterile lancet or scalpel to allow the infected material to be expelled. The material will be analyzed to determine what kind of bacteria is causing the infection. The interior of wound may require cleaning (irrigation) with sterile saline solution to ensure all material has been removed.
The wound may be left open to allow further drainage and covered with a dressing. Antibiotics are given to fight infection. Management of the wound may include frequent irrigation and dressing change. If healing is complicated by diabetes or poor circulation, more aggressive treatment may be required.