Many people talk about squeezing, using needles or scalpels on their own abscesses; here’s why this is not a good idea.
For those of us who are experienced with our HS, we know that it’s impossible to tell at a given time what is going on with the abscess. Although most abscesses are not infected, they can become infected at any time.
If you self lance using scalpels, needles or squeezing it will most likely build up scar tissue and cause tunneling. Although this may not have happened to you yet, it most likely will. By self lancing you also run the risk of hindering future treatment options. Should you need wide excision or CO2 laser surgery scar tissue build up from self lancing or I & Ds could make the surgery more difficult or result in a more invasive surgery with a longer recovery.
In most cases, when you squeeze an abscess it can make it worse by causing more inflammation, which can cause cellulitis. It pushes the contents into the bloodstream, causing infection, even if isn't infection present. If there is infection present, this can push the contents into the bloodstream, which can cause sepsis.
Having an abscess drained by a medical professional in the most safe environment is still a risky procedure, so doing it in your home makes this very unsafe. When in a clinic environment, you are usually given antibiotics as a precaution with instructions to follow up with your regular physician.
It doesn't matter how sterile your environment or lancing instruments are in your home, there is a lot of bacteria that lives on the skin surface, in particular, Staphylococcus (staph). These bacteria can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces, but when the skin is punctured or broken, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection.
If an abscess on the skin has been cut open with a scalpel and or needle it provides staph access under your skin, into the bloodstream, which can cause infection, then doubling your chances of infection. Once the infection enters your bloodstream it causes infection elsewhere in your body; this is called sepsis which can be serious causing conditions like endocarditis (infection of the heart) and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Sepsis can lead to septic shock where the body’s blood pressure becomes so low that it can cause death.
Please keep in mind when “giving your opinion, suggestions, promoting, urging, or encouraging" others to do this, you have no idea what their situation is.
- Are they new to this disease?
- What is the status of their abscess?
- Do they have any other medical conditions?
If you choose to have your abscesses lanced or have I & Ds, regardless of the risks, this is your prerogative, however, please do not encourage others. Those new to HS may be inquiring about this practice as they’ve seen this mentioned in groups, please do not encourage this form of disease management.
Read more about HS being a follicular occlusion here.
This is an awareness article for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.
Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen
Edited by Brindley Kons