Skip to main content

Skin Abscess Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
Reviewed by Buoy's medical team
Learn how we choose treatments

Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • If you have symptoms of a skin abscess—a painful, red lump—see a healthcare provider to get treated. It can become a serious infection if not treated.
  • A provider may drain the cyst (a procedure called “incision and drainage”) and prescribe antibiotics.
See care providers

Emergency Care

Arrow Icon.

Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Crackling sensation felt under the skin
  • Extreme pain
  • Numbness by the lump
  • Purplish-gray or black discoloration
  • The abscess and surrounding skin become hot and red
  • It spreads quickly
  • Fever

The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.

Stethoscope Inside Circle.


All treatments for skin abscess
Info Icon.
Read more about skin abscess care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should always see a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of a skin abscess, which include a firm but squishy lump under the skin, redness around the abscess, and pain around the abscess. The abscess may feel hot to the touch, have a white or yellow “head,” and drain yellow pus or red, bloody fluid.

It’s important to get treated because skin abscesses don’t usually go away on their own. An untreated abscess can lead to a body-wide infection and other complications like blood poisoning (sepsis) or tissue death in the area of the abscess.

Getting diagnosed

Your provider can usually diagnose a skin abscess by examining the area. Sometimes a sample of fluid from the abscess is taken to test for bacteria.

What to expect from your doctor visit

  • Your provider will likely drain the pus from the abscess in a procedure called “incision and drainage.” First, the area is numbed using a local anesthetic. Then a surgical blade is used to open the abscess and drain it. The abscess is cleaned out with a sterile saline solution and packed with gauze if needed. You may have to follow up with your provider to make sure the abscess is healing and to have the packing removed.
  • You may be prescribed oral antibiotics. This is more likely if you have a fever, the abscess is large, or you have surrounding cellulitis (skin infection).

Prescription skin abscess medications

Oral antibiotics

  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin)
  • Dicloxacillin (Dycill)
  • Doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx)
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)

Types of skin abscess providers

  • A primary care provider can diagnose and treat a skin abscess.
  • A dermatologist—a doctor who specializes in treating skin conditions—may also treat an abscess.
Showing results for
Meet Buoy's physicians and clinicians
Every treatment shown on this site is evaluated by our medical team and must pass Buoy's clinical review.
Learn how we choose treatments
FAQ Icon.


Frequently asked questions