Abscess Still Hard After Draining: 3 Facts To Consider

The human body has its own way of fighting against infections which leads to abscess formation. It is a fluid-filled mass full of cellular debris, bacteria, and dead cells. So you have to drain the contents to treat it.

But what if you find your abscess still hard after draining?

The normal duration for an abscess to heal can extend up to two weeks. An abscess mostly drains on its own but in some cases, the only way to drain is by making an incision. Some people often experience the hardening of abscess or formation of a hard lump after its drainage. 

Well, if that’s the case, then don’t worry! We came up with everything you need to know about herd abscesses and you can find your answers here. So let’s get started.

What is Abscess? 

An abscess is a fluid-filled mass composed of dead immune cells and pathogens which must be drained for proper healing. The drainage usually takes place on its own but sometimes drainage through making an incision becomes the only solution. 

abscess-still-hard-after-draining

When it comes to location, there are many types of abscesses. Some of them include abdominal, epidural, brain, alveolar, acute, palatal, pancreatic, and spinal cord abscess. Skin abscesses are the most common ones and most commonly are of three types: 

  • Boils – These are caused due to bacterial invasion that affects one or more hair follicles giving rise to painful bumps 
  • Furuncles – An infection of the hair follicle that might run deeper into the cells and affect the surrounding cells too
  • Carbuncles – clusters of boils/furuncles 

All types of abscesses show similar symptoms which include redness, swelling, and pain. It appears as a yellow-colored pus-filled lump surrounded by a pinkish-red boundary. 

Why Do We Have Abscess? 

Whenever a pathogen is identified in an area, cells of the immune system become active and they rush towards the pathogenic site, and a process called inflammation is initiated. As a result of this process all the dead cells, bacterias, and debris gets collected in a fluid-filled mass called pus. Several factors such as blockage of glands or any infected hair follicles can also cause an abscess.

abscess

How Long Does It Take For an Abscess Drainage? 

An abscess draining on its own is normal but in the worst possible case abscess drainage can only be done via an incision. The abscess drainage procedure is pretty simple in which the doctor makes an incision and drains the pus. 

The procedure is often accompanied by the usage of several antibiotics and pain relievers. However, the usage of antibiotics isn’t generally appreciated. This is because abscesses are devoid of blood vessels. Hence, antibiotics can only diffuse into the abscess which makes them less effective. 

Initially, it’s better to wait for the abscess to drain on its own but if it doesn’t, then the only option is to consult a doctor without wasting any time. The doctors usually focus on keeping the bandages clean for a week or more depending upon the type and size of the wound. The entire healing process might take up to two weeks. 

Is Your Abscess Still Hard After Draining?

Draining an abscess is extremely important because improper drainage might cause the infection to spread around the surrounding tissues. Moreover, if you don’t drain the abscess, there would come a time when it would burst due to the accumulation of pus leading to severe pain. 

Is the skin around your abscess still hard after draining? If yes, then this must be making you worried. Once the abscess is drained or healed, recovery won’t take much time but it might leave a hard lump under skin. A hard lump is formed due to the overactivity of fibroblasts. These are the cells that play a significant role in the final healing process of the abscess. 

abscess-drainage

The empty space left by the abscess is filled by the fibers produced by fibroblasts. These fibers include collagen which gets deposited in the empty space and finalizes the wound healing process. However, in some cases, the body loses its control over fiber production, and over productivity leads to the deposition of extra fibers.

Hence, an increased multiplication of tissues can make the abscess hard around edges or make it feel like a hard lump. 

Other than this, induration (hardening of tissues) of abscesses is also common. Initially, the abscess feels hard but gradually it becomes soft. Incision and drainage are always performed once the abscess becomes soft. 

An abscess drained but still swollen might be a sign of re-infection. To prevent the site from infection you must consider the following facts,

  • Take all your medications as prescribed by the doctor 
  • Clean the wound properly 
  • Replace your bandage on time

When it comes to abscesses, the treatment depends upon the size and type of abscess. A cutaneous abscess might drain on its own whereas the other types can only be drained through incision and drainage method. Antibiotics are often prescribed by doctors but are mostly considered ineffective for abscess treatment because of the absence of blood vessels.

Now you must be thinking of how to tell if abscess is healing or not? Well, it’s pretty simple because an almost healed abscess is less painful and also shows reduced swelling. However, any hardening or lump formation won’t pose any serious problems if it is because of tissue deposition. Only if the reason for hard lump formation is something other than fibrosis, then you must seek a bit of professional advice. 

What to Expect After an Abscess Drainage?

Once the abscess is drained, there is no way it’d come again but if you experience recurring abscess in the same spot, then you must consult your doctor as recurring abscess might be a sign of an infection that wasn’t completely eliminated. 

Soon after the procedure is done, you might experience pus drainage for a day or two. The complete recovery after drainage can extend up to 3 weeks. The doctors usually prescribe several antibiotics in case of cellulitis and painkillers to avoid any infection and to relieve pain. However, a majority of the patients become stable enough within 2 days. 

Post Procedure Home Care Tips

  • The first two days are sensitive as the wound keeps draining so make sure you change the dressing as soon as it is soaked with the discharge. 
  • Try to keep the dressing and the wound clean
  • Never touch your wound with dirty hands 
  • Keep the wound dry
  • Showering after abscess drainage is fine but make sure the steam doesn’t wet your wound. 
  • If you experience red streaks, fever, swelling, and extreme pain after abscess drainage, then immediately consult your healthcare professional as these are the signs of infection. 
  • Take the antibiotics and pain relievers as directed by the doctor 
  • Follow up with your doctor for a speedy recovery

FAQs

How long does it take for an abscess to drain on its own?

Whenever your body is fighting against a pathogen, an abscess can be formed. At the site of inflammation, the cells involved in the inflammatory reaction, pathogen, and debris get collected and make up a fluid-filled cavity. Most commonly the abscess drains on its own and it takes a few days for the wound to completely heal. 

Why is my abscess still hard after draining? 

Initially, during the induration, an abscess feels hard and cannot be drained until it becomes soft. However, an abscess often leaves a hard lump after draining because of the overactivity of fibrous tissues. During the final stage of healing, the abscess is filled with collagen fibers produced by fibroblasts.

These cells sometimes overproduce due to which the production exceeds the requirement. Hence, these fibers deposit to form a hard region due to which the abscess feels hard. 

How to drain an abscess at home?

Treating an abscess at home is quite simple. If the abscess is small in size, then you can easily manage it at home. You may apply a cloth soaked in warm water and then compress it against the area for 20-30 minutes. Repeat the procedure several times a day. Make sure you don’t squeeze the abscess and also don’t use any sharp object or needle to drain the abscess. 

Takeaway

You must’ve got your answer to the question, “Why is my abscess still hard after draining?” Hardening of skin or formation of lump is usually initiated by fibrosis. Several other factors are also responsible for hard lump formation which include lipoma, lymphadenitis, fibroadenoma, and tumors. The recovery after drainage is directly proportional to the size and severity of the abscess.

Mehrosh Ahmer

Mehrosh Ahmer

My name is Mehrosh Ahmer and I’m currently a student of MBBS at Jinnah Sindh Medical University. My passion for studying the wonder that is the human body and the desire to give back to my society has led me to pursue a career in medicine. As I research, I learn more about my field, and it improves my understanding. This is why I enjoy writing the articles so that more people might get to read about subjects that they otherwise might never encounter.

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