Treatment of cutaneous abscess: a double-blind clinical study

Ann Emerg Med. 1985 Jan;14(1):15-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(85)80727-7.


Controversy exists about the value of antibiotic therapy following incision and drainage of cutaneous abscess. We undertook a randomized double-blind study to clarify the controversy. Adult patients with cutaneous abscesses who received outpatient surgical therapy were entered into the study. Following incision and drainage, patients received cephradine or placebo for seven days using a randomized code in a double-blind fashion. At the end of seven days, patients were reevaluated. Twenty-seven patients were treated with cephradine, and 23 with placebo. Ninety-six percent of the patients in each group were improved clinically after seven days. We conclude that cephradine did not alter the outcome of cutaneous abscesses at one week after incision and drainage. The implications are twofold: patients are not exposed to the potential side effects and allergic reactions of antibiotics, and the cost of health care can be reduced by not prescribing antibiotics in these patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / drug therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cephalosporins / therapeutic use*
  • Cephradine / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Cephalosporins
  • Cephradine