Preventing an abscess 

It's difficult to prevent internal abscesses, as they are often complications of other conditions, but you may be able to reduce your risk of skin abscesses with skin care and a healthy lifestyle.

The following advice may help prevent skin abscesses.

Look after your skin

Ensuring that your skin is clean, healthy and largely free of bacteria can help reduce the risk of skin abscesses developing.

You can reduce the risk of spreading bacteria by:

  • washing your hands regularly
  • encouraging people in your family to wash their hands regularly
  • using separate towels and not sharing baths
  • waiting until your skin abscess is fully treated and healed before using any communal equipment, such as gym equipment, saunas or swimming pools

Do not squeeze the pus out of the abscess yourself, because this can easily spread the bacteria to other areas of your skin. If you use tissues to wipe any pus away from your abscess, dispose of them straight away to avoid germs spreading. Wash your hands after you have disposed of the tissues.

Take care when shaving your face, legs, underarm areas or bikini area to avoid nicking your skin. Clean any wounds immediately and visit your GP or local NHS walk-in centre if you think there may be something trapped in your skin. Do not share razors or toothbrushes.

Read more about looking after your skin.

Eat healthily

Eating a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can help your immune system work properly and fight off infection. You should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Read about maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

Maintain a healthy weight

If you are overweight, you may have a greater risk of developing skin abscesses.

This can occur as a result of bacteria found naturally on your body becoming trapped in the folds of your skin. People who are overweight or obese are also at greater risk of developing diabetes, which increases the likelihood of skin abscesses developing.

Read more about losing weight.

Stop smoking

Smoking causes a wide range of serious health problems that can affect your immune system’s ability to fight infection. If you smoke, giving up is one of the best things you can do to improve your general health.

Your GP can give you help, advice and support about giving up smoking. You can also find more information and advice on the NHS Smokefree website

Read more about stopping smoking.

Page last reviewed: 25/07/2014

Next review due: 25/07/2016