how to tell if an abscess is healing

The hard swollen red bumps that form the outer layer of a sore on your skin seems to scream out for unwanted attention on something very unsightly and often embarrassing infection. However, developing an abscess is the body’s way to heal itself, similar to the high temperatures of a fever.

Thankfully, though, the unsightly red bump on your skin should only last a few days. Conversely every minute that an abscess lingers my feel like days so you might wonder how to tell if an ulcer is healing or if you have to get it checked. Worry not. We’ll look into that very question: how to tell if an abscess is healing. Also, we will unveil the additional information on sores and their treatment.

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How To Tell if an Abscess is Healing

The most common abscesses are septic (more on this later) can take anywhere from a few days to a week to heal and usually progresses in stages. Fortunately, an abscess’ final stage is also the time when you’ll most likely notice it: the inflammation stage of an infection. At this point, the body creates pus.

Pus is the white-yellow fluid that builds up at the sight of a disease, not unlike a pimple. At this stage, the redness around the abscess will be at its peak, and the skin around it may be tender, warm, and painful to the touch.

Your body treats pus-like trash so it will try to find a way to get rid of it. When the disease starts to clear, a superficial skin abscess will often rupture, draining the pus. Afterwards, your body should slowly heal on its own.

On the other hand, another sign that an abscess is healing is when it starts to shrink or dry up.

The Absence of Abscess

Don’t confuse a boil with an abscess. Although people may use the two terms interchangeably, they are fundamentally different. Think of a boil as a mountain while the sore is the lava the forms beneath it. It’s only when a collection of pus forms that an infection develops into an abscess.

Types of Abscess

There are generally to two kinds of abscesses – sterile abscesses and septic. Sterile abscesses are the less common type, and inorganic material often causes them. It can irritate your system, such as drugs. However, this type usually results into more solid lumps than pus-filled bumps.

The abscess you’re more likely to have is the septic abscesses which results from an infection. The pus that you’ll see at the center of the inflamed skin is a combination of the body’s defensive white blood cells and chemicals as well as the defeated germs and their fluids.

Where they form

Abscesses can form anywhere on the body. Although they commonly appear on the skin, ulcers may also develop inside the body.


You can treat most abscesses at home with simple self-care methods. First things first, though: remember never to squeeze, prick, or pop an abscess. Doing so may worsen the infection, spread it to other parts of your body, and cause permanent scarring.

With that warning in mind, here’s what you can do to treat the common skin abscess:

- Apply a warm sterile compress to small sores that are smaller than half an inch. Keep the warm compress in the infection area for half an hour at least three times a day. This method may help relieve the swelling, and accelerate the progress of the abscess to either shrink or drain.

- When the abscess drains, use another sterile towel to absorb the fluids.

Wash your hands frequently as you routinely replace bandages.

- Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, and towels.

When to call your Doctor

Although most abscesses may go away on their own, you should be on the lookout for specific symptoms that may point to an abscess that requires medical attention.

If you experience or see the following signs and symptoms, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

- A large abscess over half an inch across

- The sore keeps getting more prominent or more painful

- An ulcer may form in dangerous areas such as the face, spine, rectum, or groin.

- Call a doctor when you develop a fever or chills during an infection

- A sign that the disease may be spreading are red streaks along the skin from the abscess.

- Pain in the body

As you head towards your local clinic, it will help your doctor immensely if you remember these pointers:

- Possible causes of the abscess

- The age of the ulcer

- Medicines you’re currently taking

- If you have a fever or chills


Abscesses are pockets of pus that results from the body trying to fight off an infection. Although painful and unsightly, ulcers often come and go in a few days. You should expect the abscess to heal soon after it starts to shrink or when the pus drains from your skin.

Conversely, you may need to visit your doctor when you see any of the signs above that the infection is worsening.

Lastly, remember always to wash your hands. You’ll prevent many infections and ills, not just painful abscesses.

Jim Johnson

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