The other day, I got a call from a friend of mine. He recently had an abscess drained. He was worried sick about there being a hard lump after abscess drained. That made me wonder; having a hard lump like that is something to be concerned about.
After all, abscess drainage is supposed to fix your problem. So, having a lump is worrisome. Thus, if you have a lump like my friend here, you may have the same concern.
Is having a hard lump after abscess drained like this normal? When should you see a doctor? And what can you do about it? To find these out and more, keep on reading.
Table of Content
What is an abscess?
To understand why there may be a hard lump after abscess drained, let’s first look at what an abscess is.
An abscess means an accumulation of pus in any tissue of the body. A process called inflammation is the reason why there is abscess formation in your body.
Inflammation is a protective mechanism of the body. And the final stage of many types of inflammation is abscess formation. This abscess can be anywhere on the body. It can be on the skin where you can easily see. Again, it can also be in the internal organs where you won’t know.
How is an abscess formed?
The abscess is a part of the inflammatory process. Whenever a harmful organism attacks the cells of your body, your defense system, the white blood cells fight them off.
So, in that damaged organ, cells die and create a hole filled with pus. The pus includes bacteria, local cells, white blood cells, etc. The pus-filled spot is the abscess.
Why is draining an abscess essential?
You may think that a wound heals on its own. So, why does an abscess need draining? There’s a large number of dead cells and bacteria in the pus of the abscess. Sometimes, your body is unable to neutralize all of this on its own.
So, the abscess has to be drained. Otherwise, it may turn into a chronic abscess. Many other bacteria can grow there as well. This uncontrolled growth can have several harmful effects on your body.
Hard lump after abscess drained
You had your incision and drainage. But, you noticed that there is a hard lump after the abscess drained. Why is it so?
Hard lump after abscess drained is not a very common complication. However, it does happen in a few individuals. So, what exactly is this?
The final stage of abscess healing is repaired by fibrous tissue. Your body controls the amount of fibrous tissue for the repair process.
Fibroblasts are cells present in the fibrous tissue. They produce different fibers like collagens and other fibers. Thus, they fill up the space left by the abscess. The fibrous tissue also helps to strengthen the wound.
But sometimes, there can be an excessive amount of tissue deposition. When the control mechanisms go out of control, there can be excessive fibrous tissue formation. The fibroblasts multiply excessively. They also produce more ground substance (materials in between the cells) than usual.
When this happens, the fibrous tissue increases in size. And if they reach out beyond the boundary of the original abscess, they can form a lump. So, if you feel a hard lump after abscess drained, this might be the culprit behind that.
This can happen in all locations and all types of abscesses. Hence if you have a hard lump after a breast abscess drained, it’s probably due to the exact cause.
Hard lump after boil drained?
That was all about abscesses, but can the same thing happen in case of a boil? Boils are infections of the hair follicles. When the infectious area gets filled with pus, it has to be drained. In that case, the hard lump after the boil drained can be due to fibrosis.
Cysts are fluid-filled cavities that can occur at any place in your body. However, it is more common underneath the skin. This fluid needs to be drained sometimes. In that case, there may be a hard lump after cyst drained. It’s the excessive fibrosis that causes the swelling.
Other causes of hard lumps?
A hard lump at the location of your abscess drainage can be a coincidence too. So, it’s best to get yourself checked out. Some of the causes include:
- Cysts, like epidermoid, ganglion cysts, etc.
- Benign and malignant tumors, etc.
So, what can you do about the hard lump after abscess drainage?
If the hard lump is due to fibrosis, then there’s little you can do. The good news is that this won’t pose any problems medically.
However, if your lump is due to other causes, your doctor might be able to fix it depending upon the cause. But in that case, that lump may later get worse.
So, it’s best to see your doctor. They can accurately determine why the lump occurred. Then they can prescribe treatment if needed.
What can you expect in abscess draining?
The process of abscess drainage starts with your doctor giving you a local anesthetic. This numbs the skin over the abscess. Then, the doctor will make an incision on the skin at the site of the abscess.
Finally, the pus is drained out by a syringe. Your doctor will flush out the space with normal saline. After the draining, the doctor will give you antibiotics to heal.
If you’re wondering how long it takes for incision and drainage to heal, you’ll be glad to know it’s only in 1-2 weeks. However, if the abscess is too big, it can take longer. However, no matter how quickly the doctor finishes the draining process, it can make you concerned about a hard lump after abscess drained at any time.
Care after abscess drainage
The physician will advise you on how to take care of the wound after abscess drainage. Some of the things you can follow on your own are:
- Keep the abscess area clean.
- Make sure to properly clean your hands with soap or even disinfectants if necessary.
- You can try applying heat to the abscess with hot water bags or other ways.
- You also have to eat a healthy diet to ensure proper nutrients to your body.
What causes abscess formation?
Various types of harmful bacteria generally cause the formation of abscesses. These abscess-forming bacteria are called pyogenic. Some parasites cause abscesses as well.
For example, a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus causes skin abscess. Abscesses mostly follow bacterial entry after an injury. This may be caused by cuts, scratches, animal bites, or even surgical procedures.
Abscesses in the perianal region are caused mainly by bacteria in the stool. Normal stool contains loads of bacteria. So, they can cause skin abscesses there. Patients with ulceration tend to develop abscesses. Other than these, abscesses can occur in the breast, teeth, lungs, brain, etc.
Abscess healing stages
Abscess takes a variable time to heal, depending on how big it is. If it’s a small abscess, it heals without any intervention, and you don’t have to worry about a hard lump after abscess drained.
Macrophages, a type of blood cell, digest the damaged cells and fluids. So, the area becomes less swollen. If it’s superficial, you may even see pus coming out.
Then, there is the formation of new blood vessels in the damaged area. The local cells try to fill up the damaged tissue by multiplying.
Finally, there is the formation of scar tissue. This is a type of fibrous tissue. Scar tissues form when the remaining local cells can’t completely restore the tissue to its previous form. It’s the phase when you can be sure of how to tell if abscess is healing.
Is it normal to have a lump after an abscess?
Abscesses don’t generally leave any lumps after healing. But, in some cases, it can happen. If there is excessive deposition of fibrous tissue, there can be a hard lump. The fibroblasts multiply and form fibrous tissue beyond the abscess. Then, it can manifest as a hard lump.
Will a hard abscess go away?
Whether or not an abscess will go away on its own depends on the size of the abscess. If it’s not too big, it can go away on its own in due time. However, if it is too big, then you have to drain it.
An abscess is full of dead cells and bacteria. So, it’s best not to leave a big abscess as it is. There can be local bacterial growth and further infection. The infection may even spread to the blood and cause widespread damage.
How long does it take for an abscess lump to go away?
An abscess lump may take anywhere between one to two weeks to go away. However, the healing time depends on many individual factors and the size of the abscess. So, it’s different for different cases.
A hard lump after abscess drained can be the cause of worry and anxiety. But in most cases, it is entirely harmless. However, it is best to see a doctor to be on the safe side.