Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Incision and Drainage

Hidradenitis suppurativa is chronic inflammation of the sweat glands. It's a severe form of acne. Firm, red, painful bumps (nodules) form. They are often filled with pus. They often get larger and may break open and drain. Common affected areas are the armpits, groin, and anal area.

You have 1 or more pockets of infection (abscesses). Your healthcare provider needed to make a cut (incision) into the abscess to drain the pus. If the abscess is large, the healthcare provider may have put gauze packing into it. The packing will need to be removed and possibly replaced on your next visit. Always follow wound care instructions from your healthcare provider. It will take 1 to 2 weeks for the wound to heal, depending on how large the abscess is.

You may be given antibiotics to help treat infection. If your condition is severe, you may need to have the sweat gland removed.

Home care

Follow these tips or other instructions given by your healthcare provider when caring for yourself at home:

  • The wound may drain for the first 2 days. Cover it with a clean, dry bandage. If the dressing becomes soaked with blood or pus, change it.

  • Make a warm compress by running hot water over a washcloth. To prevent spreading bacteria, use a new, clean washcloth each time. Put it on the sore area for 10 minutes. You can heat the washcloth under hot water again if it cools off. As an alternative, you can stand in the shower and direct the warm spray onto the area. After each treatment, replace any dressing that had been on it.

  • If a gauze packing was put inside the abscess cavity, follow the instructions from your healthcare provider. You may be told to remove it yourself. You can do this in the shower. Once the packing is removed, you should wash the area carefully in the shower once a day. Do this until the skin opening has closed. Use antibacterial soap. You can buy this soap at pharmacies and larger grocery stores.

  • If you were prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed by your healthcare provider until they are gone.

  • You may use over-the-counter medicine for pain relief and swelling, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. Note: If you have chronic kidney or liver disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using this medicine. Also talk with your healthcare provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Prevention tips

  • Don't use antiperspirants and deodorants.

  • Stay out of the heat as much as possible.

  • Don't shave the affected area.

  • If you smoke, quit.

  • Lose excess weight.

  • Wear loose clothing. Don't wear tight synthetic clothing.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. If a gauze packing was put in your wound, remove it in 1 to 2 days, or as directed by your healthcare provider. Check your wound every day for the signs listed below.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your provider

  • Pain gets worse

  • Pus continues to drain from the wound for more than 2 days after treatment

  • Redness or swelling gets worse

  • Red tracks in the skin around the wound

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell