So, you’ve got an abscess do you? Ouch. Or maybe not. Depending on the nature of the infection and the treatments you take an abscess doesn’t have to hurt.
Over the years I’ve had probably around 30 abscesses and these are the therapies that I’ve had personal experience of:
1. Ignore the abscess
3. Baths and compresses
4. Antibacterial washes
5. Incision and draining under a local anaesthetic
6. Incision and draining under a general anaesthetic
7. Magnesium Sulphate
Want more information? Ok, here it comes in gory, technicoloured detail.
1. Let the abscess go away of it's own accord
Basically, this is me being a bloke (or an ostrich with its head in the sand) and ignoring painful lumps when they appear on my body. I think I got my first boil / abscess when I was about 25 (in 1996) and that one went away of its own accord. So did the next 10 or so over the next 9 years. The first true abscess that I had to have treated was in 2005 (see Incision and Draining under a Local Anaesthetic). Since then I'm afraid I've had to have most of the new ones also treated.
Now, I'm not saying that you should ignore lumps, boils or abscesses if and when they happen to you - in fact I strongly recommend that you get advice from a medical professional – but it's feasible that if the affected area isn't too painful you can get by. Eventually the swelling may go down and you can carry on with life as normal.
Personally, my lumps tend to be of 3 varieties (suddenly the song, 'My Humps', from the Black Eyed Peas is playing in my head) and I use different therapies for each:
It's relatively easy to tell the difference between a spot and a boil if it's on your face but identifying a lump when it's in your groin region can be a bit trickier. Spots are generally smaller than boils and can come to a head more quickly. If they do, they either burst off their own steam or I give them a little helping hand (having washed my hands thoroughly with an anti-bacterial soap).
b) Boils or only mildly-painful abscesses
These tend to be bigger than spots and, in their mildest form, are simply uncomfortable. They may be slightly more painful depending on the area of the body they're located in but this type of lump never becomes truly excruciating. Again, they may come to a head themselves or just go away. For this type I use antibacterial washes, warm compresses and hot baths (as opposed to regular showers).
c) True abscesses
These are the killers; the ones where some proper medical treatment (e.g. antibiotics, draining etc.) HAS to be taken. God knows how they do it but for me, true abscesses tend to spring up in a short space of time (usually less than 24 hours) and become fairly painful fairly immediately. The largest one I've had was about the size of a penny piece which doesn't sound too big until I tell you that it was located around the groin region (oh come on, bollocks to modesty, it was around the anus). They're red, hot, sore and agonising.