Cutaneous abscesses: natural history and management in an outpatient facility

J Emerg Med. 1984;1(6):489-93. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(84)90002-7.


This study investigated the natural history and treatment of cutaneous abscesses in an outpatient setting. Incision, drainage, aerobic and anaerobic cultures were done on all 78 patients entered in the study. Tenderness and fluctuance were noted in more than 80% of the patients; erythema and induration in more than 60%. Forty-one percent of all abscesses were in the anogenital region. Forty-two percent of cultured abscesses grew aerobes exclusively, 28% grew anaerobes exclusively, and 27% grew a mixture of aerobes and anaerobes. The predominant aerobic organisms were Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which were mostly isolated from the head/neck, extremities, and axillary regions. The predominant anaerobic organisms were Peptococcus and Bacteroides, which were primarily isolated from the anogenital regions. Nearly 60% of the patients returned for reevaluation. They were equally divided between those patients taking antibiotics and those not on antibiotics. However, all patients were clinically improved.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Drainage
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / therapy