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I&D - Incision and Drainage


Updated July 03, 2014


Incision and drainage, or I&D, is a common treatment for an abscess. An abscess, or infection with pus, may not heal well on its own or even with antibiotics. The pus usually needs to be drained to promote healing.

An I&D is performed by first numbing the area around the abscess with local anesthetic. A scalpel or needle is inserted into the skin overlying the pus and the pus is drained. Many abscesses have pockets of pus that must be broken up to release all of the pus.

Sometimes a wick, usually a piece of gauze or gauze tape, is placed in the drained abscess to keep the skin from closing. This allows the wound to continue to drain as it heals from the inside out.


Habif, Thomas. "Bacterial Infections." Clinical Dermatology, 4th Edition. Ed. Thomas Habif, MD. New York: Mosby, 2004. 285.

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