Jenna Wishnew, MD, FACS

General Surgeon located in Richardson, TX

An abscess is a cavity of pus and infection that may begin like a pimple. As it increases in size, it may need expert wound care. Jenna Wishnew, MD, FACS, in Dallas and Richardson, Texas, specializes in advanced wound care at the Methodist Richardson Wound Care Center, one of the top four centers in the nation. If you need relief from a painful abscess, schedule an appointment with Dr. Wishnew online or by phone today.

Abscess Q & A

What is a skin abscess?

A skin abscess is a pocket of pus that develops under your skin when your body fights an infection. In many cases, the infection is caused by Staphylococcus, or staph bacteria that are normally found on your skin. If you get a cut or abrasion, the bacteria can get beneath your skin, ultimately causing an abscess.

Skin abscesses can appear anywhere on your body, but they’re often found in the armpits and inner thigh.

What symptoms develop due to an abscess?

An abscess creates a noticeable, round lump that feels warm, appears red and painful. In most cases, an abscess is quite painful and the skin over and around the lump is red and warm. You may also notice pus draining through a very small opening in the center of the abscess.

When an abscess goes untreated, it continues to get worse and the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues or get into your bloodstream. If the infection spreads, you’ll have symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and increasing pain. 

What is the difference between an abscess and a cyst?

A cyst is a noncancerous, sac-like structure that develops under your skin and contains a thick or thin oily substance. Unlike an abscess which contains pus, cysts contain skin oils, though they can become infected. Cysts can also range in size from pea-sized to as large as several inches. 

How is an abscess treated?

The only way to treat an abscess is to open the pocket and drain the pus, a procedure aptly called incision and drainage. Dr. Wishnew may pack the wound with a long strip of gauze, leaving a wick coming out from the wound that allows new pus to drain.

If your abscess is packed, Dr. Wishnew will order special antibacterial strips to help encourage the wound to close from the inside.  The dressings are changed daily. Each week the wound will be reevaluated to asses what dressing is best for the wound at each stage. 

You’ll need specialized wound care if your abscess doesn’t heal properly, it keeps returning, or the infection spreads into the surrounding tissues. Dr. Wishnew also may treat infected cysts similarly.  Usually, this requires also removing the cyst capsule. In some cases, she may need to do minor surgery to remove the entire cyst before it gets infected.

To get relief from an abscess or cyst, call Jenna Wishnew, MD, FACS, or schedule an appointment online today.