Font Size

Abscess (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

A skin abscess will sometimes rupture and drain spontaneously at home without any further complications. However, in some instances, further evaluation by a health-care provider is necessary to prevent the progression and complications associated with a continuing infection. Consult a health-care provider if any of the following scenarios occurs with an abscess:

  • The sore is larger than 1 cm or one-half inch across.
  • The sore fails to heal or it continues to enlarge and becomes more painful.
  • The person has an underlying illness such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disease, or peripheral vascular disease.
  • The person is an IV drug abuser.
  • The person is on steroid therapy, chemotherapy, or dialysis.
  • The sore is located at the top of the buttock crease, or it is on or near the rectal or groin area.
  • The person has a fever of 100.4 F or higher.
  • There is a concern that there is foreign material within a wound or under the skin.

Go to a hospital's emergency department if any of these conditions occur with an abscess:

  • Fever of 102 F or higher, or vomiting, especially if the person has a chronic disease or is on steroids, chemotherapy, or dialysis
  • There is a spreading red streak on the skin originating from the abscess.
  • Any facial abscess larger than 1 cm or one-half inch across
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/9/2014

Must Read Articles Related to Abscess

Anal Abscess
Anal Abscess Anal abscesses include perirectal abscess and perianal abscess. Both types of abscesses need immediate medical attention. Causes of anal abscesses include indiv...learn more >>
Breast Infection
Breast Infection Mastitis is an infection of the tissue of the breast that occurs most frequently during the time of breastfeeding. This infection causes pain, swelling, redness...learn more >>
Dental Abscess
Dental Abscess Bacteria from a tooth cavity can cause a dental abscess, or infection of the mouth, jaw, or face. Symptoms include pain, swelling, facial redness, gum inflammat...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Abscess:

Abscess - Cause

What was the cause of your abscess?

Abscess - Treatment

What treatment was effective for your abscess?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Peritonsillar Abscess »

Peritonsillar abscess (PTA) is a common infection of the head and neck region.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary