Hard Lump After Abscess Drained (What’s Causing It & When To See Doctor)

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The procedure is quite simple when draining an abscess, but the at-home treatment told by the doctor is crucial to follow until the end of the healing period. Many people might feel the hard lump, but that usually isn’t something to be worried about. It could be scar tissue looking this way which requires some time to dissolve and go back to feeling like normal skin. Taking antibiotics, pain relievers, and warm compresses helps eliminate this hard lump. For some, it might heal faster, and for others, it could take months to go away. Keep observing the lump, and if you feel it getting red, swollen, painful, or bleeding, seek medical attention. 

An abscess is a pus-filled infection in body tissue caused by bacteria and can be a difficult time for those suffering from it.

Those who have had it know how painful an abscess can be, and treating it becomes more difficult as it grows in size.

Some of them do dissolve away on their own if they are smaller in size, other might drain at home or might require to be drained by a doctor. Either way, draining and healing an abscess is no easier task. 

Either you treated your abscess at home or got it drained from the hospital.

If people feel another hard lump, they fear a second abscess forming. But is that the case? Let’s look at why there’s a hard lump and what you can do to fix it. 

Forming of abscess and drainage

A man is using gauze to tighten an abscess on his leg

An abscess is usually caused by bacteria but can also be caused by viruses, parasites, or swallowed objects. The pus is actually your immune system fighting against the infection. 

It can be caused internally like a gland abscess and externally like a breast abscess or an anorectal abscess, typically anywhere on the skin.

But if there’s drainage and you see a hard lump forming, that’s possible when it’s caused on the skin where it’s easier to see and treat. 

Those who suffer from this type of infection report painful, irritated, red, and swollen symptoms. 

A deep abscess that doesn’t go away on its own can be treated at home or get treated at the hospital with an outpatient procedure.

Draining it becomes crucial when it’s big enough to cause infections in other body parts.

The drainage also depends on the size, location, and type of abscess.

On the skin, different types exist, including:

  • Boil, which is painful bumps 
  • Furuncles caused by infected hair follicles or undergrowth 
  • Carbuncles, which are clusters of furuncles

Draining abscess

A patient is talking to his doctor about draining the abscess on his arm

There’s a home treatment option to reduce an abscess by yourself, which includes applying heat to it, so it shrinks and drains.

A warm compress helps out the most, which can be made by soaking a towel in warm water and placing it on the spot several times a day.

If you got it drained at a hospital, they must have cut open the infected area after applying a local numbing substance to let out the fluid.

Your doctor would have then packed the wound with surgical material to help it heal and prevent it from recurring. 

When getting surgical drainage, they usually provide the after-care in detail and the medicines to help the area heal faster, including taking antibiotics.

Following your doctor’s advice can be more reassuring to people.

People become skeptical of the hard lump that might follow after the draining when treating it at home. They might fear another abscess is forming or the previous one didn’t drain properly.

Hard lump after draining an abscess

It’s difficult not to worry when you feel a hard lump still in place even though the area has drained out.  

Mostly it’s not something to be worried about because when the infected area becomes so big, it’s difficult to go back to looking like your original skin before it got infected and formed into an abscess.

The infected area needs time to heal, so a hard lump could be formed. The hard lump could be the scarred tissues.

That doesn’t mean it will stay there, but it needs time to heal and dissolve. 

Following your doctor’s advice and completing your prescribed medicines is essential here so you won’t get infected again.

If you treated it at home when it drained, follow it with warm compression. 

Usually, it takes a few weeks as it slowly starts reducing in size and disappears. For others, it might even take months.

Can a hard lump be a cyst?

A cyst and an abscess are similar-looking, and it becomes difficult to tell them apart.

A cyst feels more like a hard lump filled with fluid or pus and grows slowly. It’s also less painful than an abscess and only starts being painful when it grows.

You could have had a cyst before but didn’t know about it because upon getting more infected, it can become an abscess, but an absence doesn’t begin as a cyst.

It could be possible that after getting drained, what’s left is a hard lump from when you had a cyst before. But it’s only a possibility. 

One way to notice if anything is wrong with the infected area after it gets drained is to see if any changes occur.

If the lump starts becoming red, swollen, or painful, it could be a recurring infection. You must get rechecked by your doctor. 

After a few weeks, you must be able to tell if the hard lump has begun to dissolve, even if by little.

If it’s decreasing or reducing in size, you don’t need to worry and keep doing what’s been working to ensure it’s gone. 


What causes skin abscess?

An abscess formation could be due to a bacterial infection and can appear on any body part.

For a skin abscess to begin, it could be due to a cut or scrape to the skin or even a surgical procedure allowing the bacteria to enter and cause inflammation.

You can get it under several different conditions and situations, such as:

– Coming in close contact already infected with an abscess forming bacteria
– Living with a chronic skin disease
– Living with diabetes
– Someone with a metabolic syndrome
– Smoking
– Having a weak immunity system

How can you prevent a skin abscess?

There are some ways you can be preventive against abscesses.

Regularly washing your hand is always beneficial to avoid any infection.

Whenever you get a cut or a scrape, wipe it clean with an antibacterial solution or apply an antibacterial ointment.

Try to keep your wounds clean and bandaged.

Maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle is necessary, especially if you have other health conditions, then you need to be extra careful. 

Don’t share your personal items such as soaps, razors, towels, makeup, and clothing with another person. 

How long does it take for an abscess lump to go away?

Recovery depends on the type of lump you had, especially the size and place it occurred.

If you got it drained from a doctor, follow their instructions and prescriptions completely to achieve good healing.

Some people might witness a hard lump, and it’s okay because healing takes time and is different for each person.

Some might take a few weeks to heal, but others might take months for the hard lump to dissolve.

What happens when an abscess hardens?

When the infection causes an abscess to form initially, it’s quite soft. That’s not when you’re supposed to touch it, for it can get more infected.

To heal, it needs to form into a tight or hardened form where you might see a head-like formation on it.

If it’s hardening, it’s on the way to healing either by dissolving with time or bursting out the fluid.

If it’s difficult to wait, you might want to visit a doctor to let them decide the form of treatment to heal it, and they might even recommend minor surgery to perform an incision to drain it.

What to expect after draining an abscess?

Getting it drained usually means the doctor provides a list of things to remember that you need to follow to heal faster.

They typically recommend taking antibiotics and how to bandage the area, along with some pain relievers. 

They will also let you know any precautions you need to take to avoid the infection from recurring.

You will be asked to carefully wash the area and apply a warm compress after a few days of getting it drained to help it heal faster.

To summarise

Getting an abscess drained is easy for a doctor to do without complications. The aftermath is essential where the person infected needs to take proper care of it to avoid recurring infections.

But sometimes, some people complain of having a hard lump even after the infected area has been drained.

It takes time for the area to heal and return to the smooth skin you once had. Since it got big enough to be drained, scar tissue healing will take time.

There’s no need to worry, and by following your doctor’s instructions, the hard lump will slowly start to dissolve on its own.

If you see the lump turning red, swollen, or painful, you should immediately seek medical attention because it could be a recurring abscess. 

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Saumya Malik
I'm an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. I am passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When I'm not writing, you can find me curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.

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