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Abscess & Cellulitis

About a week and a half ago I started to develope a lump, redness, and pain just outside the crease of my right thigh. Over the weekend it progressively got larger, developed a whitehead, and started draining pus/blood on its own (DO NOT try pushing, sqeezing or poking with a needle on your own).During this time it was VERY painful and hard to walk, sit or get comfortable. Once that finished, there was blood, lots of it, but this is normal (I of course did not know this and began to panic). Just put a dry gauze or paper towel there and change it frequently. I wanted to go to the hospital but because of the high cost and lack of good insurance, I was advised by my father to wait and see a dermotologist the following Monday. Yet when I arrived, she said that " we usually treat an abscess during the beginning stages and this was to sever for her to handle" and sent me to the hospital anyways. I was pissed!
The ER doctor first stuck a huge, long needle into my thigh near the abscess, which went about half way into my leg. This was a VERY painful procedure and it barely took away the pain (honesty I felt EVERYTHING!) Once my leg was "supposedly" numb, he then proceded to to slice open the wound "so it could drain more." I screamed, cryed, and left scratches and bruses on my mother's arm during the whole procedure (and I have a very high tolerence for pain so be prepared!) After feeling the scalple slicing open my abscess, then the doctor found a previous abscess under that one and had to slice it open as well. After all of this, it was time to begin packing the wound with this stringgy gauze filled with antibiotic by using a small pair of sissors to do it. I felt everything! It felt like he was poking the abscess with the sharp sissor and then dragging it around the inside edges of the wound. Another very painful and tramatic experience!
He wanted me to come back to the hospital the very next day because I also had an infection inside called cellulitis which is "a very serious condition" and must be watched carefully. Usually the packing remains inside the abscess for two days and then removed. When I returned they first removed the gauze which is not that painful, but then had to push on the wound to see if anymore pus came out..ouch! Then it was repacked again (again very painful, especially when using sissors to do it) because the wound was so deep and infected. I returned to the ER the following day and had the packing removed for the final time and then was told to have a follow up visit with either my primary care doctor or dermotologist to make sure it's healing properly.
I believe that this abscess was cause by a pair of underwear that was too tight, cutting off the circulation to a gland that lies right outside the crease of the thigh. The paperwork suggests that an abscess (sometimes called a "boil" occurs when bacteria gets trapped under the skin and begins to grow) can be caused by an insect bite, ingrown hair, blocked oil gland, "pimple," cyst, or punctured wound. The pus forms inside the abscess as the body responds to the bacteria. Antibiotics are not required in the treatment of a simple abscess, unless the infection is spreading into the skin around the wound known as "cellulitis" (which I had).
Here is everything I was perscribed and told to do:
- Medication: Bactrim or Septra and Keflex (because occasionally with cellulitis the infection will be resistant to one antibiotic and another must be perscribed)
- Home care with cellulitis: (1)limit the use of the affected part, since excess movement can cause the infection to spread. (2) if the infection is on the leg, walk as little as possible during the first few days of treatment and keep your leg elevated whil sitting to reduce swelling.(3) be careful not to miss any doses of antibiotics, especially during the first seven days.
-Home care with abscess: (1) the wound may drain for the first two days so cover the wound with a clean DRY bandage (I used gauze pads). If the dressing becomes soaked with blood or pus, change it.(2) Once the gauze packing is removed you should wash the area carefully in the shower or bath ONCE A DAY, untill the skin opening has closed. (3) You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) to control the pain
- keep the wound as dry as possible once drained, just wash the area around it
- healing of the wound will take about one to two weeks depending on the size of the abscess (but don't worry, they write you a doctor's note for work)
- get the lump checked out as soon as it starts forming to avoid cellulitis and going to the hospital (you might still have to have it drained but at least you can go to a cheaper doctor who WILL do it and not experience all the pain and suffering of a full blown abscess)
22 Responses
Avatar universal
I am glad to find someone to talk to that can relate. I had just had my leg lanced 2 weeks ago, to drain an abscess. ?  Just looking to find answers.   I am 38 yr female that has developed a condition of multiple skin abscesses with joint pain, headaches, dizziness, and tingling extremities.  Undiagnosed, tried every preventative,  Flu vaccine correlation??, ???????Just want it to go away
Avatar universal
I went to the hospital today because got two bumps unfortunately on my butt and I was deathly scared to find out what it was. The doctor looked at it for one second and told me it looked like cellulitus and wrote me a prescription. Don't you find it weird that he didn't cut it open and drain it or anything? It's really painful especially because I can't help but to sit down sometimes. Tylenol and Motrin didn't even work. The doctor prescribed me bactrim do you think he did his job correctly? I feel as if he was rushing and didn't look into it enough.
Avatar universal
I had the same thing done today except they didnt cut it open or pack it they just stuch a big needle in it and squeezed as hard as they could. I can hardly walk it hurts so bad. but they gave me an antibiotic for the cellulitis and hopefully it will get better soon
Avatar universal
If a diagnosis of cellulitis is made there is very little pus produced to drain and so antibiotics are sufficient and drainage is not required. A simple test to diagnose a cellulitis is to touch it - if it's rock hard its probably a cellulitis. An abscess on the other hand is a collection of pus which the body forms to wall off from the rest of the body and so must be drained. A simple test for an abscess is to touch it - if it's soft its probably an abscess.
Avatar universal
i just had the same exact thing done today, but it was on my butt unfortunantly. im only sixteen and this doctor had no emotion, stuck the needle in to "numb" it i felt every single movement and slice. i was screaming crying yelling nd squeezing my mom i actually bit her arm to keep myself from screaming any louuuder. she was in tears cause i was screaming so loud. the doctor didnt say to you know go ahead take a breathe and right when he saw it he took a tissue and wipped it off pertty rough. i have a "wick" right now keeping the hole open so it will finish draining. which is gauze with some stuff on it like stuck into one of the cuts. then i have to go to the doctor who im pretty sure is a dermatologist in two days. and am out of school for 3-5 days. and i am on two antibiotics. but im glad that there is somebody else who went through it too. and i also have a very high pain tolerance and could not stand this pain. so whoever has to get that done... BE READY its unfortunate nobody should feel that pain.
Avatar universal
I went to the doctor this past Monday after having a red and swollen bump on the inside of my right thigh for about 6 days, which then developed a puss pocket on the top. The doctor lanced it and packed it and prescribed an antibiotic for me which I began taking that night. I have been on the antibiotic for 2 1/2 days now. The tenderness is getting better and I have been able to handle the pain with simple ibeuprofen. However, I am concerned because there is a very hard lump that has formed inside my leg right around the sight of the wound itself. Can you help me with this? What could it be and should I be seen again. When I went in to the doctor Wednesday for my recheck and he removed the packing he looked at it and I mentioned this issue to him. He told me to soak my leg 3 times a day in warm water and continue the antibiotic. If it does not get better by Saturday I am suppose to return.
Avatar universal
I've been dealing with abscesses on my outer labia and bikini line reoccurring for years. It started in my teen years, and I didn't go to a doctor for one until about 2 years ago, and it was such a humiliating and horrible experience I haven't gone back for another one. I treat my own at home with hot soaks, heat packs and if it gets bad enough I do drain them myself.

The Doctor I did see, was for an exceptionally bad one that I couldn't seem to get to drain. And the doctor chastised me for ruining the way it looks down there saying I should have seen a doctor sooner, and that If I would simply thin my thighs it wouldn't be an issue. I grew up in a household where we didn't talk about health type things and I've never been to a gyno. Well anyways. after she lanced and left, the nurse apologized for how the doctor spoke to me (I was crying) and I explained that I didn't really like doctors or hospitals, and that I had been working on my weight. (i've lost nearly 200 lbs over the last several years) The nurse also told me that the abscesses could be stress related or even genetic. I was prescribed an antibiotic, and also tylenol with codeine because I am allergic to Vicodin they wanted to prescribe. I also wound up with a week of bedrest, which seemed a little long for something i'd been dealing with on my own and not taking time away from work for.
They hurt but I gotta eat.

To be honest it affects my sexual life greatly as I am too embarrassed to let my boyfriend see down there ever. When I was 18 My first boyfriend saw once and made me feel like a freak. the scarring and pits really bother me. My current boyfriend doesn't even know about the problem, I make up excuses not to be intimate when I have one, and refuse to do anything unless the lights are out to avoid him finding out. I worry I wont be attractive to him anymore.


If anyone knows of anything that could be done to prevent these things from occuring, I would love to know. I just can't seem to find much about them online, other than the usual "how to treat one" but nothing on prevention. Even if it means seeing a doctor to get something prescribed. I'll brave the doctors office for something that might end it.
Avatar universal
i am 18 yrs old...i just got one lanced and packed on my bikini line. It was, in fact, the most painful thing. i felt everything. and bled alot. i screamed and cried my lungs out. my nurse at the er was also a complete rude *****. i was told yesterday at my check up they ran tests and are not sure what bacteria It is. and had a chunk of gauze removed. I.m on two antibiotics and vicodin. i went to another check up today and was told it's healing nicely. he pulled the remaining gauze and re packed It. once again the pain was unreal. now i have to take It easy and remove one centimeter of gauze daily until my next appt. on top of this all...i started my pd this morning and the antibiotics have caused major constipation :( my heart goes out to all who've been thro this. it's painful and exhausting.
Avatar universal
I've been having reuccuring cellulitis and accesses for abbot a year. At first when the first bump came on my knee I had no idea what it was at first it was as small as a tiny freckle and I thought it was from shaving or something so I ignored it . In two days my knee grew to the size of a softball. I had a fever and could barely walk. I went to the ER they gave me antibiotics and said to return the next day if no improvement so the next day it doubled in size and pain. I was admitted into the hospital from the ER of them telling me I might die or have to amputate my leg. Thankfully neither one. But I was in the hospital two weeks they were cutting and draining and my body was not responding to antibiotics. Another abcess grew on my other leg and they cut that one as well. I was released after two weeks and within the next week I grew another spot actually two another on my leg and another in my bikini line area. I was in the hospital on and off for two months they drained packed and gave pain medication. Since then I have gotten more of the spots and started to drain them myself. I'm 23 female healthy but I believe I have a weak immune system. I hadn't had a spot in a few months when one actually grew on my leg last week I've been draining it but I'm sick of the scars I have all over my legs. My body doesn't respond to antibiotics anymore and I wish it would stop. I got a small one on my breast which I finally got the lump to drain last night but of course there will be scaring. When I go to the doctor they literally cut lines in my skin leaving larger scarring. I'm young and I am very aware and self conscious of my skin bc I like to dress lightly not have to cover myself up. It creates a problem with my love life bc what guy wants to see scars and abscesses all over you? I've been able to hide it well but now I have scars all over my legs and I need this to stop. I don't know what else to do.
Avatar universal
I have cellulitis as a result of a big abscess on my labia. But the other day the ER dr told me that if I continued to get it then I should see an Infectious Disease Doctor. He said they can run tests on you to see if you have it going through out your body and then do whatever treatment they had to clear you of it.
Avatar universal
They only have to cut and drain it if it has an abcess, I believe that is causedbig cellulitis is not treated. I just had twin babygirls 5 months ago :) well when I was almost 8 months pregnant I had cellulitis on mine also. I went to ER but wud not let them lance it bc it hurt so bad, it was ab the size of a golf all. They gave me antibiotics. 2 days later it was the size of a fist. All I could do was lay n the bed, could barely walk bc of the cellulitis and my belly being the size of a house, but had to get up to pee every 20 mins. From being pregnant. I was n so much pain I jus decided to go back to the ER and let them lance it. My mother had to borrow a van just to get me to the hospital bc I cud only lay down. So they "numb" it.. Little did I know it only numbs the surface so u don't feel them cutt it open. The doctor squeezed for ab 5 minutes!.. Felt like eternity! If my belly wasn't so big and I cud have jumped up on my own, I wud have! I have never n my life experienced suck excruciating pain! It literally hurt worse than delivering my 2 girls. I was Screaming n pain the whole time! It left a hole as big around and as deep as my pinky. My boyfriend had to change the packing for me, every 2 days, for ab 2 months. It's now 4 months later and I have had cellulitis 3 more times since then. Luckily no abcess yet. I just got rid of it on my nose, using antibiotic. And now I 1 on my chin. Just happend 2 nites ago, I'm goin to the doc n the morning. I'm so scared its going to an abcess! I'v been reading up on it and u can get cellulitis n the eye, it's scaring the crap out of me. Having it n ur eye can cause ur brain to swell and blindness. I just wish I cud get rid of it for good!
Avatar universal
I have went to the hosptial this past tuesday cause i had lump and sore under my left breast. The nurse just took one look and said it was cellulitis and to take a antibotic and go to the doc after my meds are gone now its draining and i am worried very worried
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