Abscesses -A New Update

An abscess on the skin, showing the redness an...

Identification, Treatment and Prevention

Abscesses are something most of us have encountered before and they can be everything from hardly noticeable, to extremely painful. Sympathetic or accessible, affordable medical care can be hard to come by for many of us around the world who use drugs and so some people resort to treating themselves, for reasons of cost, access, stigma or fear. This can lead to some serious complications as the toxicity of an abscess can vary considerably. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to getting to grips with an abscess -and whether you can really treat it yourself. Yes, this is a big article and has had a major update, but it is worth reading the whole thing if you are concerned about abscesses, or at least read the summary!

NOTE: This article was updated on the 1st November 2015 due to a reasonable shift in the way we look at abscesses and our use of antibiotics and wound care has progressed over the last decade. 

Abscesses present themselves as raised lumps on the skin and can either be sterile or infected.

Many drug injectors will have an abscess at some stage in their injecting careers but it is by no means a certainty – many can be prevented. Even if you haven’t had an abscess but your partner or flatmate has, read this article because germs travel and can be infectious.

A Sterile or Infected Abscess?

There are two types of abscesses, septic and sterile. Most abscesses are septic, which means that they are the result of an infection.

A Sterile Abscess is caused by injecting either an irritating or insoluble substance into a vein – and if some of the cut in your drugs are insoluble, a sterile abscess is sometimes formed. It is basically a milder form of the same process of an infected abscess, caused not by germs this time but by nonliving irritants such as drugs. If an injected drug is not absorbed, it stays where it was injected and may cause enough irritation to generate a sterile abscess—sterile because there is no infection involved. Sterile abscesses are quite likely to turn into hard, solid lumps as they scar, rather than remaining pockets of pus. It will not usually show signs of heat although there may be a touch of redness and it can feel like a solid nodule under the skin and isn’t likely to be sore. Soreness will depend on the volume of substance under the skin. Don’t try to squeeze or poke it as it will usually go away in its own time and squeezing it could induce an infection.

A Septic or  an Infected Abscess can occur anywhere in the body. In the injecting community in which we are referring to here, these can be caused by either using non-sterile injecting equipment or by bacteria from your skin entering under the skin via the injecting process. An infected abscess will soon come up as a swollen lump on or near the injection site. Appearing inflamed and red, it feels hot to the touch and soon becomes very painful. The abscess may come to a ‘head’ or ‘point’ and be filled with pus. Sometimes a deep abscess will eat a small channel (sinus) to the surface and begin leaking pus. It can be tempting to squeeze or burst it now – but DON’T! This will only spread the infection, driving it deeper and wider, and it could head for the bloodstream making you very ill by giving you blood poisoning which can be fatal! Only a germ and the body’s immune response are required.

A good way to decide if yours is infected or sterile -feel for heat (warm is infection) and a lot of pain (infected). If not it should go away on its own.

Battle Scars

As the ‘drugs war’ rages on, the ricochet effects continue to reverberate around the drug using community. Abscesses have become our battle scars but it is important to remember that you don’t have to end up with huge circular scars on your body. If you are concerned about your scars early treatment of your abscess will help keep scarring to a minimum. There are camouflage creams available to conceal scars – you can ask for a referral from a doctor to a clinic that will guide you in their use and help with the creams application or google some of the excellent camouflage creams available and vitamin E oils and creams for healing scar tissue.

NOTE: For Steriod Users and abscess information, click here.

If you want to know what inside your abscess – here’s a little insight.

What’s in an infected abscess?

The abscess is actually a cavity under the skin, a tender mass generally surrounded by a coloured area from pink to deep red.

An angry abscess, painful, hot, and swollen -this needs medical attention

An angry abscess starting life, getting painful, hot, and swollen -this probably needs medical attention (note the hand near it shows it to be not as big as it first looks)

When you inject drugs, you may bring a germ into your injecting site, where it gets under the skin between the skin and the vein, or is accidentally pushed into glands, which causes an inflammatory response as your body’s defenses try to kill these germs.

Your body tries to seal off the infected area by creating many little ‘walls’ of pus that in turn make up a sealed off area, which will contain pus. This is formed in response to the invading germ, as white blood cells gather at the infected site and begin producing chemicals called enzymes that attack the germ by digesting it. These enzymes act like acid, killing the germs and breaking them down into small pieces that can be picked up by the circulation and eliminated from the body. Unfortunately, these chemicals also digest body tissues which is why you end up with varying degrees of a hole or ‘cavity’. In most cases, the germ produces similar chemicals. The result is a thick, yellow liquid—pus—containing digested germs, digested tissue, white blood cells, and enzymes. Some of this bacteria can still be ‘live’ which is why squeezing, poking about etc, can easily spread the infection. Your body has made this cavity in an attempt to localise the infection so it won’t spread. Clever huh? But this isolating tactic can be the reason antibiotics don’t work on their own without any attempt to also ‘cut and drain’ the site to relieve the area of the exudate or waste, without it spreading.

An abscess is the last stage of a tissue infection that begins with a process called inflammation. Initially, as the invading germ activates the body’s immune system, several events occur:

  • Blood flow to the area increases.
  • The temperature of the area increases due to the increased blood supply.
  • The area swells due to the accumulation of water, blood, and other liquids.
  • It turns red.
  • It hurts, because of the irritation from the swelling and the chemical activity.

These four signs—heat, swelling, redness, and pain—characterize inflammation.

As the process progresses, the tissue begins to turn to liquid, and an abscess forms. It is the nature of an abscess to spread as the chemical digestion liquefies more and more tissue. Furthermore, the spreading follows the path of least resistance—the tissues most easily digested. This is an obvious reason why you shouldn’t poke through or squeeze your abscess because it will travel. A good example is when your abscess is just beneath the skin. It most easily continues along beneath the skin rather than working its way through the skin where it could drain its toxic contents. The contents of the abscess also leak into the general circulation and produce symptoms just like any other infection. These include chills, fever, aching, and general discomfort.

The middle of the abscess liquefies and contains dead cells, bacteria, and other debris. This area begins to grow, creating tension under the skin and further inflammation of the surrounding tissues. Pressure and inflammation cause the pain. Abscesses are often easy to feel by touching, the hotter it is usually meaning a raging infection is trying to be dealt with by your immune system;  the middle of an abscess is full of pus and debris.

People with weakened immune systems or serious illness may get certain abscesses more often because the body has a decreased ability to ward off infections. Other risk factors for abscess include exposure to dirty environments, exposure to persons with certain types of skin infections, or other abscesses, poor hygiene, and poor circulation.



Click the picture to see how they needed to treat this area where an abscess formed near the nerve

Most often, an abscess becomes a painful, compressible mass that is red, warm to touch, and tender.

Boils are usually pea-sized, but can grow as large as a golf ball. Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling, redness, and pain
  • A white or yellow center or tip
  • Weeping, oozing, or crusting
  • As some abscesses progress, they may “point” and come to a head so you can see the material inside and then spontaneously open (rupture).
  • Most will continue to get worse without care. The infection can spread to the tissues under the skin and even into the bloodstream.
  • If the infection spreads into deeper tissue, you may develop a fever and begin to feel ill. This is serious – you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. (see the Antibiotics, Yes or No? section)
  • You may also have a general feeling of ill health, fatigue, or a fever, which is reason to call a doctor.
here is one where it was recommended to just cut and drain, and not necessarily dispense antibiotics

Here is one where it was recommended to just cut and drain, and not necessarily dispense antibiotics

Of special note, abscesses in the hand are more serious than they might appear. Due to the intricate structure and the overriding importance of the hand, any hand infection must be treated promptly and competently.


Unlike other infections, antibiotics alone will not usually cure an abscess because of the way it is constructed. In general an abscess must open and drain in order for it to improve. Sometimes draining occurs on its own, but generally it must be opened by a doctor in a procedure called incision and drainage (I&D). Waiting for an abscess to burst may be too painful and lancing is needed.

Or if necessary, if a head has developed on the abscess, a doctor will lance it and drain out the pus. The resulting hole should be thoroughly cleaned out, either using prescription only agents or a sterile saline solution. Since skin is very resistant to the spread of infection, it acts as a barrier, often keeping the toxic chemicals of an abscess from escaping the body on their own. This is why the pus must be drained from the abscess by a physician. who can determine when the abscess is ready for drainage and opens a path to the outside, allowing the pus to escape. Ordinarily, the body handles the remaining infection, sometimes with the help of antibiotics or other drugs. The surgeon or doctor may leave a drain (a piece of ‘wick’ cloth or rubber) in the abscess cavity to prevent it from closing before all the pus has drained out. This may not be the same as ‘packing’ of which there is conflicting evidence these days (see below).

Incision, evacuation of pus and debris, and careful probing of the cavity to break up loculations provides effective treatment of skin abscesses and inflamed skin tissue cysts. A randomized trial comparing incision and drainage of skin (cutaneous) abscesses to ultrasonographically guided needle aspiration (sucking up) of the abscesses showed that aspiration was successful in only 25% of cases overall and less than <10% with MRSA infections [20]. Accordingly, this form of treatment is not recommended. Simply covering the surgical site with a dry dressing is usually the easiest and most effective treatment of the wound [21, 22]. Some clinicians close the wound with sutures or pack it with gauze, wick or other absorbent material, sometimes leaving it open with a wick to collect pus/exudate. One small study, found that packing caused more pain and did not improve healing when compared to just covering the incision site with sterile gauze so some clinicians are beginning to avoid this if possible.

Try and find a sympathetic doctor, go to A&E , or try a recommended needle exchange ( It will be kept confidential and some places can help with wound dressings, teaching you how to do them yourself at home.) The fear of going to your drug treatment clinic with an abscess, or to A&E, because of the effect it could have on your methadone script being changed, is unfortunately still a real one in some places/countries. But you must get advice and treatment – no matter what- because if it proceeds to get worse and is left untreated, an abscess can lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can be fatal, cellulitis ( a very painful infection of the surrounding tissue) and other complications. All this will put extra pressure on your immune system – not what you want if you are HIV or Hep C positive or are rundown.

Special Considerations: 

These are some things for you and your doctor to consider with a problem abscess; remember there is new information around abscess care and it is worth gently seeing if your doctor knows this (see ref below and table 2 below)

  • Ultrasonography may prove helpful in identifying the size and extent of an abscess
  • Radiography may assist in the detection of foreign bodies
  • Carbuncles are deeper infections involving the deep cutaneous (skin) layer and usually the subcutaneous fat
  • Common cutaneous abscesses include infected sebaceous cyst, infected Bartholin gland, and pilonidal abscess
  • Felon and paronychia are abscesses of the fingers or thumbs
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa is a recurrent infection of the epithelium within apocrine gland–containing skin that leads to chronic abscesses, usually in the groin or axillae

  • abscess_firstHeroin users arm



Recurrent abscesses, especially those on the skin, return due to either defective/altered immunity, or staph overgrowth, where there is high bacterial colonization on the skin. The patient should consult a physician for treatment with which to wash the skin areas, and treatment to eradicate colonization.

MRSA can look exactly like an ordinary abscess: red, swollen, pus-filled, and tender. But MRSA infections are caused by one particular type of staph that is resistant to many antibiotics. If a skin infection spreads or doesn’t improve after 2-3 days of antibiotics, your doctor may suspect MRSA. The right treatment given promptly is important to heal a MRSA infection and prevent a deeper, more dangerous infection.

The latest info….

Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: 2014 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/06/14/cid.ciu296.full

Antibiotics – yes or no?

The decision on whether to administer antibiotics directed against S. aureus, (the usual bacterium present in an abscess) as an adjunct to incision (cutting) and drainage should be made based on the presence or absence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) such as temperature >38°C or <36°C, tachypnea >24 breaths per minute, tachycardia >90 beats per minute, or white blood cell count >12 000 or <400 cells/µL (see Fig 2 moderate; Figure 1) (strong, low). An antibiotic active against MRSA is recommended for patients with carbuncles or abscesses who have markedly impaired host defenses and in patients with SIRS (Figure 2, Table 2) (strong, low).

Sometimes, carbuncles or abscesses are caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, and require treatment with potent prescription antibiotics if the lesions are not drained properly. In rare cases, bacteria from an abscess can escape into the bloodstream and cause serious complications, including sepsis and infections in other parts of the body such as the lung, bones, joints, heart, blood, and central nervous system.

Sepsis is an overwhelming infection of the body that is a medical emergency and can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms include chills, a spiking fever, rapid heart rate, and a feeling of being extremely ill.

A fairly typical large abscess on a heroin user who seemed to have skin popped heroin.

A fairly typical large abscess on a heroin user who seemed to have skin popped heroin. Click the picture to see how they treated it.

Home Treatment: 

Also read ‘The Summary’ section at end of this article.

You can usually take care of most very/small abscesses at home. Of special note, abscesses in the hand are more serious than they might appear. Due to the intricate structure and the overriding importance of the hand, any hand infection must be treated promptly and competently. Get to the doctor friends!

Warm compresses may promote the drainage and healing of abscesses. If an abscess is directly beneath the skin, it will be slowly working its way through the skin as it is more rapidly working its way elsewhere. Since chemicals work faster at higher temperatures, applications of hot compresses to the skin over the abscess will hasten the digestion of the skin and eventually result in its breaking down, releasing the pus spontaneously. This treatment should ONLY be reserved for smaller, PEA SIZED abscesses in relatively less dangerous areas of the body—limbs, trunk, back of the neck. It is also useful for all superficial abscesses in their very early stages. It will “ripen” them. Gently soak it in warm water, or apply a clean, warm, moist washcloth for 20 minutes several times per day. Similar strategies include covering the abscess with a clean, dry cloth and gently applying a heating pad or hot water bottle for 20 minutes several times per day. After each use, washcloths or cloths should be disposed of or washed in very hot water and dried at a high temperature (it is infectious remember -to you and others).

Washing and covering the area with a sterile bandage also may promote drainage and healing and help prevent the infection from spreading. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain of an inflamed abscess.

Contrast hydrotherapy, alternating hot and cold compresses, can also help assist the body in resorption of the abscess. There are two other remedies that work to rebalance the body in relation to some PEA SIZED abscess formations, Silica and Hepar sulphuris. In cases of TINY, PEA SIZED septic abscesses ONLY, bentonite clay packs (bentonite clay and a small amount of Hydrastis powder) can be used to draw the infection from the area.

It’s important to thoroughly wash your hands after touching an abscess. Launder any clothing, bedding, and towels that have touched it and avoid sharing bedding, clothing, or other personal items.

You must resist the urge to squeeze or pop your abscess! This can make the infection worse. Yes we know its very tempting, for some it’s downright impossible to not squeeze or poke around, but remember the scar will be bigger the more you poke and you can break that special ‘cavity’ wall and cause the infection to spread. Draining is different from squeezing, do that instead – it allows the pus to leave the site without breaking the cavity wall that has kept the abscess surrounded. Bursting is also NOT the same as draining. Squeezing and/or bursting an abscess either by itself or through you, can spread the infection and may cause complications. (see below).

If the abscess is completely drained, antibiotics are usually unnecessary but it is hard to know if it has been drained properly unless you see a doctor  or nurse who should be skilled at doing it properly. But treatment with antibiotics may be necessary in cases such as:

  • When MRSA is involved and drainage is incomplete
  • There is surrounding soft-tissue infection (cellulitis)
  • A person has a weakened immune system
  • An infection has spread to other parts of the body

Tips on Preventing Abscesses

Always use new equipment – sterile water, works, swabs etc. Wash your hands before and after your fix- it is really essential you try and make this a habit – a part of your routine when injecting. Don’t use an old slimy  (germy) bar soap, it is preferable to use antibacterial soap in a pump container and to let your hands and arms air dry. If you have an abscess at the current time, it is extremely important you are as clean as you can be and you use an antibacterial soap all over your body in order not to spread the infection. This is especially true when you are changing bandages. Try and do it outdoors, or over the bathroom sink/bath and dispose of all the old bandaging straight away. While a lot of the bacteria from pus is dead, some of it will be live as well and if there are other injectors around you, its important to keep everyone as free from ‘live’ bacterium as possible.

Infections that are treated early with heat (if superficial) or antibiotics will often resolve without the formation of an abscess. It is even better to avoid infections altogether by taking prompt care of open injuries, particularly injecting wounds.

Staphylococcus bacterium, the bacteria that is so often found in skin abscesses, actually lives on our skin, but will really thrive in hot sweaty areas that may not have seen  a water for days. So it is really important to ensure you keep your injecting site clean, fresh and aired and you always wash your hands before handling injecting equipment, for you and any mates. And don’t let anyone hit you up without them washing their hands first as well! You wouldn’t let a nurse inject you without swabbing or putting gloves on would you?

Since bacteria are everywhere in our environments and on many people’s skin, the best defense against abscesses includes:

Hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Careful cleaning of cuts, scrapes, and other wounds,

Keeping wounds covered

Not sharing towels, sheets, razors, etc.

Wash towels, sheets, and anything else in contact with an infected area in very hot water.

Throw away any wound dressings in a tightly sealed bag.

Filters: There is some debate here but generally it is assummed that one should use surgical cotton wool as ones filter because it is made up of fibres that won’t separate – unlike cotton wool, cigarette filters, tissue etc. Not only can loose fibres from these get trapped under the skin and cause an abscess , but they can also travel along your veins and cause blockages and infection in some seriously dangerous places – like your heart or get lodged somewhere along the way. This can be an extremely painful experience but fortunately, is not too common -in fact it’s pretty rare but I know someone it happened too, and it was excrutiatingly painful, the person couldn’t walk, and it was found hours later by hospital doctors, lodged in their hip (apparently). However, if you ensure to wet your filter before you use it (and don’t tear it off with your teeth or dirty nails) you will be reducing your chances of fibres dislodging or bacteria travelling to your injection site. Cut it longways, and always put the ‘shaggy’ side down in the spoon, so your syringe draws up on the smooth side. Don’t make it to small, if its wet you wont be trapping your drugs in it and you’ll have a better chance of it doing its job and ‘filtering’ your drugs of  yukky bits.

There has been some very ‘dirty’ heroin going around lately, so be sure to use a good size filter and try not to miss the vein – another sure-fire way to cause an abscess.

Seconal (barbituates) and certain other tablets are notorious for causing abscesses. Usually an abscess can be all but guaranteed if you miss a vein shooting these so BE CAREFUL.

If any gear looks suspect to you, consider other ways of taking it such as snorting, smoking or swallowing. Never skin pop with suss gear and it is not recommended to skin pop or inject in the muscle with brown heroin (another sure way to get an abscess).

Speed and coke are particularly irritant to your veins and tissues, so if you can bear it- try smoking or snorting it instead. Note: it gets to the brain even faster than injecting, by smoking.

New drugs like mephedrone and incorrect steroid injections can give people some really terrible abscesses and wounds. Mephedrone is a fairly new area re abscesses but one worth looking up for more info although treatment appears to be the same however the size and look of the abscess has been thought to be worse than the usual heroin injecting related abscess.

Cleaning your own syringes properly: If you must re-use a syringe that you have previously used, attempt to disinfect a rinsed syringe by looking at the video at the end of this article.

Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: 2014 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Note -the chart below forms some of the latest US thinking on treating Skin & Soft Tissue Infections. To help you understand the lingo -in brief -Purulent means ‘contains or consists of pus’   I&D = to Incision (cut) and Drain [an abscess] C&S = Culture and Sensitivity;   Rx = treatment

Where Does Your Abscess Sit on the Table of SSTI’s?

Basically: For pus producing soft tissue infections (SSTIs) –  The Mild Infection stage is thought of as needing just = incision and drainage; Moderate infection is someone with purulent infection with systemic signs of infection (fever etc) – should have abscess tested for culture and any antibiotic sensitivity/resistance; Severe infection is thought of as: patients who have failed incision and drainage plus oral antibiotics or those with systemic signs of infection such as temperature >38°C, tachycardia (heart rate >90 beats per minute), tachypnea (respiratory rate >24 breaths per minute) or abnormal white blood cell count (<12 000 or <400 cells/µL), or immunocompromised patients.

Nonpurulent SSTIs. Mild infection: typical cellulitis/erysipelas with no focus of purulence. Moderate infection: typical cellulitis/erysipelas with systemic signs of infection. Severe infection: patients who have failed oral antibiotic treatment or those with systemic signs of infection (as defined above under purulent infection), or those who are immunocompromised, or those with clinical signs of deeper infection such as bullae, skin sloughing, hypotension, or evidence of organ dysfunction. Two newer agents, tedizolid and dalbavancin, are also effective agents in SSTIs, including those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,

Fig 2


Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: 2014 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America


If the abscess hasn’t been reabsorbed into the skin, it could need a bit of help to ensure the head continues to drain. You can gently push away the top of the abscess ‘lid’ with a sterile needle tip, and allow the abscess to drain. You can use a long sterile needle and roll the  length of it across the top using a bit of downwards pressure, softly roll or push a bit downwards across the top area, allowing the pus and exudate to leak out. Use very clean, warm compresses to encourage more pus to LEAK, (not squeeze). Never squeeze, prod or poke or try and suck the pus out as you will spread the infection.  You should see a hole and you should rinse with a gentle trickle of  sterile saline solution  (sterile salt water bought at any chemist or make your own).

  1. Put one cup of water and ½ teaspoon of salt into the pot. Put the lid on.
  2. Boil for 15 minutes with the lid on (set a timer).
  3. Set the pan aside until cooled to a room temperature.
  4. Carefully pour the salt and water (normal saline) from the pan into the jar or bottle and put the lid on, extract with a sterile syringe and use it as a gentle spray to clean the abscess inside.

The abscess can be covered with a bandage which should be checked daily, allowing for the fact that more pus may form and need to drain.

Note: This is for small areas of infection only. It is at this point that you should decide to go to a doctor if there is any sign of it getting worse by the day or hour. You will feel if it looks like it is getting better -any doubt will probably mean it is not healing and you must seek medical advice.

These days, the decision on whether to administer antibiotics against Staph. aureus, (the usual bacterium present in an abscess) as an adjunct to incision (cutting) and drainage should be made based on the presence or absence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome SIRS. This means if you feel any other signs such as fever, swelling of lymph areas such as groin or armpit areas, skin sloughing, fast heart beat, extreme pain, more pus, chills and feeling sick -it is urgent that you seek medical help. Your infection is in your system and is putting your immune system and bodily organs under pressure. Don’t delay.

MRSA – Interesting addition

I have included this part of a blog from http://jailmedicine.com as it provided an interesting discussion on some from our community and MRSA -in terms of repeated use of antibiotics and abscesses, definitely worth a read.

Second question–MRSA.  MRSA infections are increasingly becoming resistant to the very few agents available to treat them, so I think it is especially important to apply the two rules to these infections.

  1. Don’t overprescribe.  There is quite a lot of literature supporting the idea that you do NOT have to prescribe antibiotics following MRSA abscess I&D.  The treatment for any abscess is adequate incision and drainage.  You do not get any better resolution in most MRSA patients if you follow I&D with antibiotics.
  2. The Sledgehammer Rule.  I think that it is seldom good practice to prescribe both Kelfex and Bactrim simultaneously.  I know this is done outside of corrections, especially in ERs.  The rationale is that without a formal culture, you are not 100% sure if this particular cellulitis is caused by methicillin resistant staph (resistant to Keflex, sensitive to Bactrim) or methicillin sensitive staph (resistant to Bactrim, sensitive to Keflex), and so, to cover all your bases, you prescribe both.  However, personally, I think it is pretty easy to tell the difference between most cases of MRSA and non-MRSA infections just by looking at them.  The MRSA organism is an abscess former, and so, even early on, MRSA infections tend to form an abscess or at least show a central “spider bite” core.  Meth sensitive cellulitis usually does not have either. Make your best guess, maybe based on a picture the nurses send you if you are not right there, and re-evaluate as needed tomorrow or the next day.  You will pick correctly 95% of the time.

Finally, what about those patients who get recurring MRSA abscesses?  The patients who get recurring MRSA abscesses are typically MRSA carriers, and your goal then is to eradicate their carrier status.  There are several ways to do this according to MRSA guidelines (such as these by the Infectious Disease Society of America)—here are three:

  1. Apply mupiricin (Bactroban) 2% ointment to both nostrils (where MRSA tends to hang out in carriers) twice a day for ten days.
  2. Chlorhexadine body wash once a day for 5 days.
  3. Rifampin 600 mg po BID for five days in addition to your primary MRSA drug, whether Bactrim or Doxycycline—don’t prescribe rifampin alone.


We are talking here about typical young healthy patients.  Patients who have chronic health problems or are immunocompromised must be approached differently. The opinions here are my own.  I could be wrong; feel free to disagree! (End of the Jailmedicine article)


Cellulitis— Inflammation of tissue due to infection.

Enzyme— Any of a number of protein chemicals that can change other chemicals.

Flora— Living inhabitants of a region or area.

Pyogenic— Capable of generating pus. Streptococcus, Staphocococcus, and bowel bacteria are the primary pyogenic organisms.

Sebaceous glands —Tiny structures in the skin that produce oil (sebum). If they become plugged, sebum collects inside and forms a nurturing place for germs to grow.

Septicemia— The spread of an infectious agent throughout the body by means of the blood stream.

Sinus— A tubular channel connecting one body part with another or with the outside.

Polsdorfer, J.. “Abscess.Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 1 Nov. 2015<http://www.encyclopedia.com>.




Leave a comment


  1. Miller

     /  January 28, 2023

    A week ago I missed a meth shot. Got an abscess. After put heat on it several times, it finally started draining.But it itches all around the location of abscess really bad but I’m scared to scratch it in fear of causing the infection to move to different areas. Info on why and what I need to do will be greatly appreciated

    • Hi! Apologies for the delay, I hope it is still relevent. Remember we are not Drs only harm reduction activists/ experts – so I can only give limited advice. Great to hear it f.draining and u are right not to squeeze etc as u certainly don’t want infection to spread. Itching however is normally a good sign, it means things are healing and is the body being busy sorting things out! So try your best not to scratch- sometimes placing a cool cloth on top can stop itching. Just rest it on there and irritation shud abide. Remember it needs to drain and sometimes one needs a wick (sterile cotton stuff) to help that but just make sure it is able to slowly drain out of a small area, keep it clean but not Ffked around with! All the bandaging is avail at chemists or on prescription, and pharmacists shud be useful in helping – if u happen to know a nice person at a chemist. Good luck!! I hope we have been of some help. Xxx

  2. Ashley

     /  January 3, 2022

    ok so 2 days after Christmas I did a old shot (top side of elbow crease) from like 4 days before Christmas and I didn’t realize my point was barbed a bit until it was already in my skin but I did the shot didn’t miss felt a lil rush n went on about my business….the next day I was getting ready for work n my elbow felt lil sore….as the day went on I didn’t realize I was starting to hurt more n more while at work still…out of no where my blood pressure bottoms out I turn pale can’t see well get hot n cold at the same time..so I go sit down for 15 mins get back to work as best as I could but after ur blood pressure bottoms out u feel groggy n weak….well about 30 mins later my blood pressure bottoms out AGAIN. So I left went to moms to lay down for about a hour took shower went to my boyfriend house and at this point I am able to move my arm still but by time we getting under covers my elbow is locked up due to pain so severe….I have very high pain tolerance…..I go to sleep like a baby ..next morning elbow still locked in same position same pain level …it’s now January 3rd and I’m able to fully use my arm as I should except there’s a red golf ball sized lump at the injection site and it was hard as a rock yesterday n warm but today its real soft still hot and the past couple nights it’s been feeling as if someone is trying to pop it ..u know how it feels when u got a deep pimple and u try to pop it before its ready kinda like a sharp pinching feeling?…also I have not been pushing on it or anything and absolutely no puss or liquid has drained but last night it started feeling like it was leaking?….but its not leaking or draining anything…I’ve noticed that literaly right after the pinch feeling is when it feels like it’s leaking or whatever…the area is hot and when I feel the pinching I feel like something wet or cold is going over it out of it something….I haven’t done any hot or cold compress either I’ve just had a folded bandana wrapped around my elbow like Tupac in order to hide it.
    But I don’t kno what I need to do about the pinching n draining SENSATION or what that could even possibly mean please try to help figure out why this is happening is it good bad or what….

  3. Hannah Cartrette

     /  December 6, 2021

    Is this an abscess or what? It’s really red and it’s near my shoulder and underarm and it’s fevered and sore and it has gotten bigger and there isn’t a head or a pont anywhere and it’s about five inches long and 4 inches wide and it’s soft and then again it’s really hard.

    • Hannah – this sounds serious. Firstly, this is a very dangerous place to inject. U are very close to the heart and infection travels fast. The lack of head on the abscess could mean it’s deeper inside and can’t express and, get rid of the exudate (puss and shit). I do t know if u have Injected here or not, either way please get to a non judgemental Dr , hospital pref, or even needle exchange peeps to help u. Please do this Hannah. Please let is know how u get in. Best of luck lovely. Xx

  4. Lilbearpaw

     /  September 12, 2021

    So I’m freaking out this is the first time I shot up n idk if I missed or not cause there was a bump n I pushed on it and it went away now it’s like red and it hurts when I touch it I have a hot wash cloth on it now! But should I be worried

  5. Chealsy

     /  October 21, 2020

    I haven’t seen any posts for this year but I have a question. I’ve had lots of abscesses from meth misses but none to where I saw pus or it coming to a head or whatever you talk about. But I did in the crook of my elbow and 2 days later it’s still hard to move my arm and very painful. It’s a little red and it’s got to the touch. Above and below where I did it at its very heard to the touch also. I’ve never had the pain last this long. I was hospitalized for suicide attempt months ago where they diagnosed me with septicemia and pneumonia qnd almost died. They thought it was due to a needle that broke off qnd migrated in my arm. But I noticed that the area where I had a 2 month long abscess had gone down completely so I think they just missed it and thought it was the needle(which they never removed). I guess I’m extra paranoid this time because I think that huge abscess was the cause qnd this is the first time I’ve relapsed in months and because of how hard and red I got for like 6 inches above and below (3”s each way up and down). It now has a little bump on top and it looks like a meddle insertion dark dot on top or something). So maybe all those other misses weren’t abbecess if I never saw any puss or anything but maybe just the one type you mentioned. I can’t bend my arm or extend it the whole way it’s so stiff and painful after all these days. Any other miss by the next day was Alesha tone and just normal to the touch. I didn’t know that all that bacteria could build up so quick to it being an infected abscess. I only gave 2 marks from all my misses. Too many to remember 20 or so. I’m in a custody battle going for visitation as my I’v use came to light. So I’m scared to let it go and possibly get septic again later on in like a month or so like I’m guessing what happened with that 1 miss. But don’t want the chance of anyone finding out now since I’m in outpatient rehab and have my visitation hearing coming up in just a week or so. It was the one and only time I’ll ever have let myself skip and am beating myself up pretty bad over it. Talk about self sabotaging ones self. But can you tell me what to look out for other than fever, feeling sick, and being weak and such just as I was for a month before being kept in the hospital for a week and being put in a medically induced coma from the mix of the 3 things they were treating me for. I’d really appreciate it. Hope you will respond after all this time. Know it’s the only one this year that I’m submitting.

    • Oh Chelsy! I’m so sorry I’ve seen your message so late! Damn! I can really appreciate the frightened state u must be in, is there any way u can approach a good needle exchange? Even one out of state? Is there a drug user union in your state? Google it and see and talk anonymously over the fone to some other users. I’m not talking ex users especially, more the ‘drug user union/harm reduction’ type of people/users and they wud be more willing (generally) to give u HR advice without going on and on about the fact that u used etc. Ok I’m generalising a bit but I would start there first at least. They cud maybe pass u on to a Dr at the Needle exchange or nurse even, or tell u whether it needs any treatment or whether u could manage it yourself. It doesn’t always have to have a head on it altho injections have a point of entery so usually the head will centre close to there..here’s a link with some natural remedies and altho they mention warm compresses there is a new thought that u shud do warm, then cold, then warm etc, but I’m not a Dr so do Google it and see what’s the latest discusion on it. Diluted tea tree oil is wonderful for everything (see link) and that cud help a lot as well. But please please, if it’s HOT to touch, and very sore, u need to act fast. If it’s very small u can probably deal with it yourself (see article) but if it larger than an inch square, I would get some help. You could even go and see your local nice pharmacist and ask about antibiotic skin creams. I’m so sorry I’m late replying and I do hope u got thru this ok …..andns you are right, it may be the needle causing the repeated infection and u need to get an ultrasound or x-ray……best of luck Chelsy…xxxx https://www.healthline.com/health/abscess-drainage

  6. WHEAT

     /  October 20, 2020

    Urgent urgent
    My gf shot a load of meth mixed with her blood from the night before. It was a miss but sum of it went in vein she thinks. I donot like her shooting her blood back into her especially from night before!! Iam extremely worried that blood may be causing her abscess worse or even sumthing worse in her blood stream

    • Bad bad bad idea! This is a sure way to get a horrible dirty hit…it is really playing Russian roulette and one day you’ll be fine, the next you’ll be sick as a dog, or worse and get blood poisoning. If u have a clotted syringe of Your blood and drugs all coagulated and u just cannot afford or bear to throw it out, the best advice is to make a suppository. The French use sups for everything coz they really work! And fast! Get a 2 ml, draw up or backload gear, then without the spike on, put a tad of lube (ok, or spit if u must!!) On and in a cuple centimetres of your anus and then put the 2 ml inside – an inch – all while lying on your side and stay in that position for 10min. It’s waaaaay better than chancing a dirty hit (esp speed dirty hits), and old blood is full of bacteria…here are some signs of sepsis or blood poisoning and if that’s your girlfriend, get her to hospital NOW NOW NOW. Good luck to u both, and ditch that dodgy habit. You won’t stay lucky doing that I can guarantee it.
      Fever and chills.

      Very low body temperature.

      Peeing less than usual.

      Fast heartbeat.

      Nausea and vomiting.


      Fatigue or weakness.

      Blotchy or discolored skin

  7. Natalie

     /  September 22, 2020

    I have a hard bubble on my forearm it’s not red or anything like that, it has no fever it wasn’t a miss hit either I’m not sure what I can do to help the swelling and pain, Its not like a puss filled abscess… thank u any information is beyond helpful it was meth and a kinda dull point.

  8. David

     /  September 11, 2020

    I have several questions. Is it more likely for bacteria to grow if you make a shot ahead of time? (Let say a day or a week). If so would freezing shots and using it when needed prevent that from happening?
    Sometimes it seems like you’re in vein (some blood gets registered but not alot, less than what you would when you’re in vein) but when you inject it either hurts or doesn’t hurt but you dont feel high. Are there areas in your arm that you’re more prone to poke arteries or capillaries?
    Lastly, when you do acetone wash (recrystallization) to purify meth, is it less likely going to cause an injection or complications?
    I had more things i wanted to ask but don’t recall all of them right off the bat but thanks for reading my comment.

    • Interesting! Def don’t store up shots as they DO grow bacteria. Lif u must, leave in sterile container in fridge but no more than 24hours max really. Freezing? Interesting idea for sure, but I wouldn’t..anyone else have experience of this?? 2) yes there are parts of your arm where you are likely to hit arterial routes or nerves, have a look at an anatomy book but as a rule always use a.one ml syringe and NEVER go deep as that where the arterys are, tho some are shallow like the wrist. Have a read up. No experience of washing up meth I’m afraid. Acetone generally should evaporate if left to dry properly but can’t be good. Bound to have bad shit that don’t help your veins!

  9. URGENT I have been clean for a year with the help of suboxone but I did not attend meetings or gain a sponsor I recently was put out of my family’s house and being around old people and places my meds are stolen I shoot for the first time[ice] i do maybe 5 times in 2 week period because of the shame I try alone have no idea how I miss in my breast twice and hit twice I wake up to red swollen painful breast with a pear shaped ball inside I have fever chills achey my anxiety is outrageous short of breath then vomiting constant even tho have not ate in 4 days. The red appears purple now. Last year I was hospitalized for spider bite MRSA and again cellulitis I had hep c got treatment but have non alcoholic psoriasis liver and have pain episodes weekly so I need to go to er. Is it likely they will keep me? Concerned about covid. Could this go away naturally also…no filter..reused point maybe 3 4 times

  10. URGENT I have been clean for a year with the help of suboxone but I did not attend meetings or gain a sponsor I recently was put out of my family’s house and being around old people and places my meds are stolen I shoot for the first time[ice] i do maybe 5 times in 2 week period because of the shame I try alone have no idea how I miss in my breast twice and hit twice I wake up to red swollen painful breast with a pear shaped ball inside I have fever chills achey my anxiety is outrageous short of breath then vomiting constant even tho have not ate in 4 days. The red appears purple now. Last year I was hospitalized for spider bite MRSA and again cellulitis I had hep c got treatment but have non alcoholic psoriasis liver and have pain episodes weekly so I need to go to er. Is it likely they will keep me? Concerned about covid. Could this go away naturally

    • Get to the doctor – swelling, redness, and now fever and vomiting?? You could be getting blood poisoning, septicemia, which can be fatal. Don’t delay! Good luck.

  11. Buster

     /  July 18, 2020

    I missed my shot of meth under my arm, it hurts so bad and its swollen and tender. Is amoxicillin clv ok to take?

  12. Kendra Michelle Taylor

     /  May 10, 2020

    i have a abscess and it’s got a hole. inside this home it’s black. either from blood or infection. its not really draining.. I’m scared to squeeze it .i don’t want to make it worse. I need some advise like asap. around the hole is red and swollen and hot .and hard.

  13. Gryphon Riehm-Eagle

     /  May 3, 2020

    Hi. I accidentally injected pharmacy grade fentanyl into an artery on the inside of my right foot. It must wrap around the back of my heel and through my ankle, because there was no sign of trouble at the injection site. However after the rush wearing off I instantly noticed that my ankle was bright red, extremely hot to the touch, and some pain but not extreme. Comparable to other IV infection I’ve had in the past. It doesn’t seem to be swollen, although it’s hard to tell due to the spot. If so, it’s minor swelling. I’ve had a bad cold and think it was most like bacteria related my hygiene over the last week or so has been sub-par, to say the least. This was a about 6 hours ago, maybe 7 and I have ran some errands and not noticed any increase in pain. I had some Bactrim left over from non drug related infection a little over a year ago, although after reading this, I’m going to try other methods like the warm towel and keep very clean, and hope it gets better on its own. I don’t have enough antibiotics to do the job anyways so I’d have to go back to the Urgent Care, which is a very easy, not judge mental office. I’d like to know what you recommend. If it’s grown and/or is more painful when I wake up I will go in for sure. The blood from registering was definitely very think and frothy and clogged the strong multiple times, which I would refilter into another and so on until I was able to hit. I did use clean syringes.
    I’m terrified of things like this and want to get ahead of it as soon as possible. Please get back to me as soon as you can with your recommendation of what I should do. Thank you!

  14. Ronna Bond

     /  April 12, 2020

    I missed while injecting meth into my breast vein three weeks ago. It turned into an ugly, large and very red and angry sore with a dark scab and I went to the ER and got antibiotics for it last Friday. It broke open and bled a lot and is now an open sore healing very slowly as I’m diabetic, but it is looking much better now. Both the ER doc and my doc have referred me to a surgeon for skin cancer. I didn’t tell them about missing the shot for obvious reasons. Should i still go to see the surgeon? It’s not cancer so why waste my time or theirs??

  15. M. Alice

     /  January 11, 2020

    I have something small pea sized beside my lip piercing come up the first time I drained it and it disappear well it left but left a small like dent or very tiny crater my 2mm size ball hid. Well that went away over 3 weeks drained few times. Now only one month later a stinging tingle started then my dent swelled kept swelling to well smaller than pea size but turned yellow on top again it is back why would it come back I clean it the piercing has been healed. The stuff that came out is yellow to yellow very very bright green no smell it is painful . I really hope the dent left this time of it ever goes away again isn’t bigger my skin tissue was destroyed the first time obviously I need some kind of help or advice and why does it keep coming back ? I have never got careless with cleaning even after healed drs in my area won’t help just say remove piercing so its all down to me and yes I have already been poking the hole i drain it through and I roll the needle over to drain I didn’t know not to squeeze but I never squeezed bc I didn’t want to make a blood blister but I barely stick the skin its not deep deep I stick the same spot

  16. Lauren

     /  September 22, 2019

    I believe I have an some kind of infection..it began on my outer thigh and went away now it is much worse inside my leg on my vaginal area…I thought it was a spider bite and I I’m terrified about this

  17. Jennifer Hutchison

     /  July 4, 2019

    What is a good thing to filter dirty herion? Thanks, useful info!

    • The best filters are the antibacterial “wheel’ filters – – you can get them on the web. But your local needle exchange might have Sterifilts or something similar. Little baby filters with a top on the them that filter out bacteria. Hassle your local Needle And Syringe Programme to get them in or maybe order them yourself? Try Exchange Supplies – best Harm reduction stuff out there!

  18. Heather Woods

     /  June 3, 2019

    URGENT URGENT For some unknown reason EVERYTIME I’ve shot up in the past two months or so this is what happens-i find a vein and inject, sometimes it burns a bit,but even if there is absolutely no burning within minutes the site and surrounding areas start to swell, harden, and hurt. This happens in every spot, whether it’s been used before or completely new. About an hour ago I did a shot of meth on my inner elbow-it didnt burn at all but as soon as I pulled the needle out a “bump” raised up and my entire inner elbow area became numb. Now there is swelling in my upper inner arm, its rock hard, and very painful to even extend my arm. I’ve had abscesses before so I know how they feel..this has happened at least 5 times in the past 2months and I think I’ve only avoided abscesses because I immediately started taking antibiotics along with benadryl and warm compresses. Even so the areas havent completely healed..I’m left with a rock hard lump under the skin. This has happened in both arms and both breasts. I thought maybe the veins were collapsed or collapsing during the injection but wouldn’t that burn just as if I had missed?? Please help me as I am at my wits end. I am Hep C positive and pretty damn ready to put the needle down for good but I still have to find out what’s happening and why. It’s now been an hour and a half since my shot and the pain is so bad its starting to scare me. PEASE HELP!!!

    • Hi, so sorry this reply is so late. We aren’t drs here so can’t answer such a.complicated problem – it almost sounds like an allergic reaction to something in the heroin. I can’t think of any thing else it could be. But – it’s impossible to say, I would say go to a Dr but so often they can’t help much with complicated issues like this. It could also be something especially dodgy in the meth -(u mean amphetamine not methadone right?). Try every way you can to swap injecting for smoking – it ain’t worth the horrible pain and aggravation when things start happening like this ..so horrible for you! I am concerned especially however, about the hard lumps under your.arma.ans breasts, this sounds.like lymph node areas that basically collect toxins from your body and swell when they are overloaded and you aren’t well. I would go the drs and start by showing them that first. Good luck and do go see the doc wontcha? Take care BP x

  19. soner sonash

     /  May 4, 2019

    I don’t use needles but I used to do a lot of H and dope (meth) and would get staph breakouts on my chin and finger from being colonized wish I knew all this back then you are very kind to talk to users with so much respect and not like they are losers.
    Addicts are people too and alcoholism and addiction is a disease. We don’t treat people with cancer like pond scum. Just saying
    Thank you again

  20. Michael Brown

     /  April 25, 2019

    I recently missed a shot – a good one and now I have a black spot at the missed shot site which is leathery and hard as hell. I’ve missed before and gotten smaller ones, but I’m wondering how I care for this. Every other time I ripped the rubbery dead skin off, but I think this is too large and it will do damage if I do so.

    My other misses were deep, so I would. Get a pit almost – where as this is pretty thin (I was gong for a surface vein near my calf) and I just missed. I knew it and I said fuck it. Anyway,
    Do I leave the black rubbery “covering” where it is and keep an eye out and the wound will eventually heal up from underneath or tear it off? I’ve torn the off before and it was just diostasterous – so I was leaning towards leaving it alone and keeping an eye. But I just don’t know.

    Thank you.

  21. Brianna

     /  March 23, 2019

    Is it possible for abcess infection occur even after stopping intravenous drug use? I know someone who went to a sober home and is supposedly clean now. Lately this person has been in the hospital and from photos it appears they have been struggling from abcess infection.

  22. Brice

     /  March 23, 2019

    I missed Like 48 hours ago and it’s just a big hard bump with no head ! Should I make a head or just go to the ER? I wanna wait it out but I’ve been reading all theses and it says just go to the ER asap !

  23. Kimberly Morris

     /  January 24, 2019

    I recently started injecting meth. I have also recently stopped,as i apparently suck at it. Although i got all my injection,the site became extremely sore …and started swelling up. Very painful..although i dont see any abcess,im not sure how to relieve the pain and let swelling go down!

  24. Boy who cried

     /  January 3, 2019

    I have an abscess on my bicep, right beneath my armpit. It started about a week ago. The other day I woke up and the pressure from sleeping on my arm had the abscess leaking blood. I applied a hot compress which tore the scan on top of the abscess away and left a hole the size of a dime. Pus and blood drained from this dime sized hole until I could see the inside of the abscess. I cleaned a pair of tweezers and pulled some of the pus out, then I caught a hold of a string like substance. When I pulled on it. It hurt.. which led me to believe that it might be a vein or something, so I left it alone. There is a big red ball inside the dime sized hole, a little pus and other unidentified things inside. The swelling and redness have gone down some, and I’ve been taking antibiotics given to me by a friend for around 4 days. Do I need to go to the ER and have this taken care of? Also, will this crater in my arm heal? Have I done irreversible damage to my body?

  25. Gale Brightenburg

     /  October 5, 2018

    My girlfriend had a hole that the tissue around it is white and black and a big hole formed. At first it was blister. Can you let me know as soon as possible

    • Brenda carter

       /  February 11, 2019

      I went to the hospital around 11 years ago the doctor said I had a severe sinus infection and possible bronchitis so she gave me a injection of antibotic in my butt cheek I can’t remember name of medicine a week after I formed a small Knott and rash on injection site so I use antibotic cream on it over the years it would swell and go bk to a small knot but for the last year it has gotten big now is size of silver dollars real red and extremely painful especially when sitting it doesn’t feel hot and I’m not running a fever could it have abscess and is there a way I can treat it at home to rid myself of this

    • Candi Smith

       /  June 26, 2019

      If i added a picture of my abcess do u think u cld tell me wht type n if its cellilutis septis or mrsa ive had it abt one week in its from meth it was not just some missed but it was in the vein. N it started blowing n i told him to stop it was burning n he kept pushing literally till i pulled myself bk n the needle came out i instantly put heating pad n tht seems to be the only time it didnt hurt n i thought i may get lucky n it wld not get real bad but after abt the 3rd day it started swelling n getting fire ass red more n more round it like a circle growing round n round it i was on anti bi o tics two kinds n i do not knw which one i was having a allergic reaction to but it was one of the n cuz i was puking n puking n it was like i had swallowed a gallon of bleach each time n i kept taking them cuz i assumed it was fthe meth coming out of me n a friend told me no it was a allergic reaction n w h e n i. Stopped them i stopped puking and then any n all injection sites are now all lumped up n h ard n bruised and im worried tht all of um are gunna end up like this one well last two days its been coming to a head n last night i had a headache tht wld n o t g o away n around 4 am it busted n clots n a fk ton of blood came out n not but a cpl little dots of white pus way more timy clots n blood which i knw was mixed w pus to cuz it was not bright red like blood but almost plum colored n now its completely came down n still drainging n my arm is yellowish n purple n just looks funky n my headache has went away but its 1245pm n im so naseuos n blah n now im scared it went to my blood stream n its why all my other sites are now bumping up cuz its spreading.

    • Marked upright

       /  May 6, 2020

      Please someone answer

  26. Amanda

     /  September 12, 2018

    I missed a shot of meth 5 daya ago and it is swollen and red and hasn’t seemed to go shown. I am torn between whether or not I need to go to the hospital.

  27. Natasha

     /  August 27, 2018

    my arm is EXTREMELY EXTREMELY painful and B4 I shot up into/around/or very close to/right next to (not to sure if I shot up directly in the a abscess) I sat here and watched my arm grow… After I shot up aswell im having chest pains aswell…. And im not sure whether or not to put a heatpad or an ice pad on my arm. . I DO wanna help make swelling go down but also want to make the actual abscess(abscesses) spot(s) show up and bring the pus to the surface, I do not know EXACTLY WHERE the actual abscess its self is located and don’t know if it’s more than just 1abscess all in(around) the same area.. what should I use? A heatpad or an ice pad? Or both? Like switch back and forth between them… I’ve shot up VERY close to an abscess B4 but no pus or clear liquid came out with the blood/after the blood… And I CANNOT straighten my wrist all the way or very far at all and it is SOOOO EXTREMELY BADLY PAINFUL!!… BUT thing is, I don’t have any other spots that I can hit other than the side/part of my arm that’s extremely warm, swollen and pain full… I guess I gotta just try to find/hit a spot the furthest away from where it hurts/hurts the most!??! IDK??!!

    • Elijah

       /  March 30, 2019

      Go to hospital tell them the truth. Hands and wrist are very prone to infection because of intricate bone structure. Do whatever it takes to get clean. You need an ultrasound of wrist.

    • Catherine

       /  April 27, 2019


    • Catherine

       /  April 27, 2019


    • soner sonash

       /  May 4, 2019

      GO NOW

  28. Natasha

     /  August 27, 2018

    Hi so I shot to heroin in/near a spot where an abscess is… It stung while I was pushing the drugs in and afterwards when I pulled the needle out it looked like a little pus may have came out and after it quit bleeding I swear I seen clear like stuff coming out of the spot… It wasn’t very much but ya… I’ve tried to find out if it’s really bad to shoot up into an abscess and What can/could and/or will happen when doing that but can’t find ANYTHING about shooting up into an abscess or very close to an abscess.. IM going 2the walk in clinic tomorrow to try n get antibiotics n also 2see how serious it is and if it’s in my bloodstream or if it’s close to being in my blood stream or not, I refuse 2go 2hospital cuz when went there few weeks ago4 2different abscesses I had n 4another reson, the doctor barely checked me out, he stuck a needle in the abscess that WAS ready to be drained and sucked bunch of blood n pus up in2 the syringe how ever the other abscess WASN’T ready n all he told me to do was keep heat applied to it n did not prescribe me w/any antibiotics or nythng 4pain… So Anyways, PLEASE email me back immediately 2let me know about this and possibly give me more information, tips, and advice!!:( Thank you and REALLY HOPE 2hear from you IMMEDIATELY AS SOON AS POSSIBLY!

  29. ashley

     /  July 16, 2018

    if i have a large sterile abcess how long approximately for it to go away or before seeking treatment ig itches and hurts when touched or bumped


  31. My daughter is using some type of IV drug. I don’t know which. She has marks on her arms like the pic above except her’s are in a ring like position in the top side of both elbows. She keeps them covered up but she forgot one day last weekend and I saw them. I was horrified. Her arms are swollen 4-6 inches above and bellow the elbow. She won’t admit to a problem so she won’t get help. Is there a point in time as a parent that my time would be better spent preparing for her death. I know that may sound horrible but I’m so lost in this. Thank you in advance for any info, help, suggestions…

    • Christine Natasha

       /  September 1, 2018

      Hi MOM.
      It definitely sounds like your daughter has been using intravenous drugs unfortunately. From what you’re describing, I would presume that she’s either a newbie to the needle hence all the appearance of missed shots, or she’s shooting low grade street drugs/pain pills can do this too.
      If talking with her is absolutely out of the question and will not yield any results, and you need to subside your curiosity – and of course curb your maternal instinct (which is, btw, more often than not 100% correct in my experience) – you could always take some hair strands from her hairbrush and have your family doctor or an independent lab run a complete drug panel in her hair to get to the bottom of it. At least that way you’ll finally know exactly what is truly going on with your daughter and also be better equipped and prepared to deal with/assist her, not only right now but also in the future.
      I am also a mother, so I know that one of the worst feelings in the world aside from just not knowing is having to helplessly watch our children suffer in pain silently. I wish you and your daughter the best if luck. Please don’t hesitate to message me if you have any other questions, concerns, or even just need to talk.

    • Denise

       /  January 12, 2021

      How is she doing?

  32. Shea

     /  October 3, 2017

    I’ve been off crack cocaine for almost a year. My skin continues to blister& get sores. Tired of this!! What can use to make this go away??

  33. ivhs d 3 abuses on my arm and they was huge and hard and bright red and ready to pop and i put a bandage over them and left them alone and then they got soft and no pus came out but they went away am I ok ..or should i gosee a doctor its like my body is so use to it that they go away on there own i done had atleast 27 of them and 2 times went to the hospital and theer was 4 of them i jist let drain on there own and they left a golf ball size scar .im just worried about the ones that didn’t drain at all and just went away am im alright or not.urgent

    • Michelle Sanangelo

       /  January 8, 2018

      Not all abcesses will need to be drained or have pus. I have been to the ER at least 28 times with them. Every time I get them they are huge but like 3x they had nothing and went away. I had one yesterday. Doctor said was not going to need to be drained cuz he saw no puss but the thing was growing every hour so after 4 hrs i said idc just cut it and tons of stank pus came out. I have a stupid long ass wick packed in it now. I’m taking it out tomorrow at home myself instead of in 72hrs at the ER again. For me as long as the red is gone its ok. Puss or not

  34. Lisa Harris

     /  September 7, 2017

    I am not sure if u would consider it abscess. It is knumb but no fever or hurting. Just strange feeling. It is from crease of my arm to the top of muscle area

    • Lisa Harris

       /  September 7, 2017

      I am not sure if u would consider it abscess. It is knumb but no fever or hurting. Just strange feeling. It is from crease of my arm to the top of muscle area

  35. jo

     /  July 27, 2017

    URGENT URGENT URGENT!!!!!!! I shot up and missed about a week ago. It turned into an abscess then turned white in the middle about the size of a chocolate chip. Then it turned black. It happened on my other arm a month ago and a picked off the black part n it’s healing. But this one now has a hole and dark yellow pus came out, A LOT OF IT .. then it started bleeding. I put neosporan on it then gauze then wrapped it. It got smaller when the pus came out but now I don’t know what to do. Do you think it will go away or should I go to the hospital? I’ve had abscesses before that were drained by a Dr but it has only been when I was in detox. Last time I had staphylococcus so I’m nervous. I don’t want to get mrsa or septic I’m paranoid and a hypochondriac anyway but what do you suggest? Please respond asap! Thanks

    • Hi Jo,
      Sorry to hear about your arm. Listen -basically all the pus is your bodys defence against infection -its all the dead skin cells and bacteria that is being ‘eaten up and disposed of’ by your body the way it knows how. So -if your body creates a scab -like your black scab on top -it is the skin starting to heal over the hole underneath which is a good sign -BUT -if there is still any PAIN, REDNESS or SWELLING -then you STILL have an infection -bubbling away underneath. Eventually all that gooey pus fights its way to the surface to push out all of the yukky shitty stuff it needs to get rid of. So -if the abscess is small -you body can fight it by itself and, usually through some kind of expelling of the bad stuff -it is able to heal -ideally from the bottom or inside of the abscess cavity -healing upwards to the surface. This is why they like to keep abscesses open to some degree -allowing the shit to leak out. They USED to pack the cavity with sterile cloth and stuff so it would heal from the bottom up -but nowadays they prefer to put a ‘wick’ in the cavity -like a candle wick so the pus can always find its way out of the hole and drain. The main thing here -in all cases -is -if it hurts -if its red and swollen and HOT -especially HOT -then you have infection and unless it goes down each day -you will more than likely need some help with anti-biotics and possible cleaning and a wick inserted. BUT -you can have a sterile abscess that heals itself -as long as you never SQUEEZE -coz you just break the special seal/cavity and spread infection outwards. If there is no pain etc -keep it clean, let it drain, dont touch just keep changing bandages etc and let it ooze, and it should heal. But again -any HEAT around it, if it looks angry -it probably is angry and you probably will need help very soon -dont leave it -if you have to pay for care etc -just keep very close eye on it and any fever, worsening of size or pain -get some antiBiotics from the doc and see about getting it cleaned etc. Good luck!

    • YaYA

       /  December 20, 2017

      I had a huge hole and I went to clinic and the Dr. gave me scrip for antibiotic that I had to take twice a day and she said to get antibacterial soap and a q tip and clean it twice a day and keep it covered. I couldn’t put the q tip inside it it felt weird grossed me out so what I would do is take a shower and pour the antibacterial soap right in it and let the warm water run over it or use the kitchen sprayer to clean it out with warm water. Dr. said it would heal from the inside up and it finally healed and I’ve had like three more happen but I didn’t go to Dr those times and I just used the soap twice a day and kept em covered. Also, the Dr. said not to put neosporin in it. I quit the stuff after getting those it was too scary:( I wanna live. Good Luck.

    • ZoeRea

       /  March 15, 2018

      Go to the hospital like ASAP. That’s definitely an infection and could be MRSA. I used to shoot into my foot. Ended up getting staph and ignored the swelling and absess too long. Ended up with sepsis and nearly died. Please don’t risk it.

    • Gren

       /  September 7, 2018

      I know this was written over a year ago but I just wanted to make sure anyone reading this knows that you NEVER, NEVER, NEVER! put Neosporin, or any other antibiotic ointment, on an abscess opening.

      Antibiotic ointments promote the quick healing of minor skin injuries. In the case of an abscess the LAST thing you want is the opening to close quickly. You want the abscess to remain open & draining as long as possible. If an abscess is draining it is, still, trying to expel infected material. (Scroll below for description of drainage- infected material vs. on themend.)

      Cover the opening with a breathable, gauze 4×4. Place the center of the square over the center of the opening, then secure the gauze, on 2 sides, using medical tape. Make sure to place the tape on opposite sides, directly across from one another, so air can get through. Change every 2-4 hours, depending on drainage amount & to check abscess is still open. If not- REOPEN THE INCISION! As the abscess heals, the drainage will lessen, naturally, and the opening will heal.

      If infection is present, the abscess will produce colored discharge containing blood, pus, infection, bits of tissue & other debris. This drainage, almost always, presents as a thick, creamy, viscous fluid & is, most often, colored tan, cream, pale yellow or pale green- though color does vary. This fluid can contain pus, blood, clotted blood, tissue, other debris or any combination of these. At times it may appear more liquid than others. WHEN YOU’RE ON THE MEND: Drainage amount will lessen. Draining fluid should, slowly, become the consistency of true liquid, flowing easily, w/ NO debris of any kind. Not even blood clots. Eventually, you want to see the consistency of water. Fluid should, also, become clearer as it changes. It may remain slightly cloudy, or tinged pink, but translucent. The abscessed area of skin should no longer be red, hot, swollen or sore.

      • Hi Gren, thank u very much for your detailed response – in fact I’m going to run that past a Dr and put it on our website if that’s ok?! It’s a really clear way of DIY which everyone has been asking about. In the UK we tell people to get to the Dr asap , we can become it’s cometely free, I know most of our readers are from the USA so it must be more difficult altho I am aware there are free hospitals..Are u a nurse or Dr? I’m really aware about healing the top of the abscess as a no no as they must heal from the ground up, so to speak. Did we say neosporin in the article? I hope not! Do let me know, I’ll have another look thru tho I can’t believe it would be there. Yes the latest is allowing a wick to hang out of the abscess site rather than packing them and changing the packing. A painful but often used way to treat abscess about 20 years ago…thanks again for such a good reply and I’ll get this double checked although it sounds right to me but I’m no Dr so, I’ll have to check it out before posting it up as a way to look after an abscess once a dr has seen u…or maybe how to look after your own if it is small enough to DIY. As the body can fight these by themselves if they are small and in fact some are indeed sterile so, such a useful reply, thanks so much!.

  36. I shot up meth in my wrist/hand back in March well it turned red swallon big lumps cane up but no head Dr put me on antibiotics for cellulitis well one week after antibiotics it came back bigger hotter I could not been my hand and my hand was huge they drained it at Dr office said it’s joint defusing put me on antibiotics again a week after last dose it came back went back Dr he drained it sent for culture come back said it was gout I had crystals in my fluid culture put me on gout mess well that didn’t work it got bigger looks like it was eating my arm cause its shrinking and deformed OK went to er they said u have celluties put me on a stronger antibiotics four days in it was still huge went to another er they said the same thing and added another antibiotics to what I was on then sent me to the orthopedic Dr now I have a mri Monday to find out what it really is its about killed me I have been sick so much I weigh 95 pounds now from 115 I’m scared of what’s next and I been on antibiotics ten days now got ten more days to go I’m on Bactrim and clindamycin I take 8 of them a day has anyone had these problems I quit all drug use over this it’s now been four living hell month

    • Julie

       /  September 12, 2017

      This is very scary hunny because i am going through the same exact thing. I shot up some bad herion and it didnt start really looking bad until about 3 weeks later. Now 2 months after the whole thing and my arm is so sore i can barely move it. And so bad To the point where i am physically so sick i throw up i cant eat and i get very high fevers. After being to the ER 3 times my arm is bigger than ever it is so disgusting and deformed like you described and it hurts so unbelievably bad and it is very hot to touch. Im scared of what it might be as well im sorry im not much help on what this might be because these damn doctors had been running me around like they didnt really even know what it was which really worries me. Hopefully we both get this figured out. Best wishes to you sweet heart if i hear anything more into what the hell this awful infection is i will definitely message you back. 💜💙

  37. Gina

     /  June 6, 2017

    I injected meth into my outside thigh and It really burned and now I have a big hole with a big blister. Its not a lump its a hole about size of quarter. Is the blister trapping the stuff I injected?

    • Gina

       /  July 22, 2017

      What I have is not an abcess. An abcess is trapped underneath the skin with a lump. Mine is on the outside thigh and it formed a quarter sized blister right away. It looked like one you would get on your heel from your shoes rubbing. I let it pop on its own. No puss just clear fluid and a big deep hole. I’ve been washing it with anti bacterial soap and keeping it covered. I don’t want to go to the urgent care clinic cause I don’t want to say what happened. They ask you at the front desk why your there so everyone can hear and you get asked again by the nurse who gets you ready to see the doctor and I dont want to say “I injected meth”:( What happened that it formed this way and not the normal abcess way? Also if its covered with a waterproof bandaid can I go in a swimming pool?

      • Gina

         /  August 1, 2017

        I injected meth into my outside thigh and It really burned and now I have a big hole with a big blister. Its not a lump its a hole. An abcess is trapped underneath the skin with a lump. Mine formed a quarter sized huge blister right away. It looked like one you would get on your heel from your shoes rubbing. I let it pop on its own. No puss just clear fluid and a big deep hole. I’ve been washing it with anti bacterial soap and keeping it covered. There is now puss coming from it that I rinse out under the shower water. I don’t want to go to the urgent care clinic cause I don’t want to say what happened. They ask you at the front desk why your there so everyone can hear and you get asked again by the nurse who gets you ready to see the doctor and I do not want to say “I injected meth”:
        1. What happened that it formed this way and not the normal lump under the skin abscess way?
        2. If it is covered with a band aid can I go in a swimming pool?
        3. How do you know if you have mrsa?

  38. Shannon

     /  May 30, 2017

    So I went to inject in the crook of my elbow yet couldn’t find the vein so did it somewhere else. The next afternoon my arm was hurting and got swollen and red. The day after I could not fully extend my arm. Yesterday I was able to extend my arm yet it is still red, swollen, and sore. Today is day 3 and it is still sore and red, yet the lump has reduced a lot. I had been clean for almost 3yrs and I when I was using regularly I never had anything like this. Could I have hit a nerve or muscle? Should I go to the hospital? I know it is stupid but I really don’t want to have to go if I can help it. I just moved back to my hometown to help my grandmother who isn’t in good health and I don’t want her to know I slipped. Please help me.

  39. Tim gotts

     /  May 14, 2017

    Thank,k. Helped. Me. A. Lot🤠

  40. Inscoe

     /  February 12, 2017

    i have a friend that shot up a pain pill acually she poked herself several times and noe her arm is swollen and red and painfull

  41. Jean

     /  January 5, 2017

    Ii am 31 and used for some time I developed abscess on my left upper arm I squeezed and pus came out a lot. The dr gave me antibiotics but the abscess continued I squeezed more then about 1 week later I woke up and my left arm wouldn’t work. Can the cellulitis from the abscesses cause nerve palsy? What can I do about it?

  42. Caleb

     /  December 16, 2016

    This site was so helpful and informative. I recently had cellulitis in my arm following meth injection. Five days in hospital on antibiotics and then a week at home on oral antibiotics. The pain and redness are gone now, but i am left with a large golf ball size abscess on my arm that is not red or hot, and not breaking or filled with puss–it just feels like a solid knot of muscle under my skin. It hurts only if i put pressure on it. Will this go away on its own? Is it anything to worry about? You provided suggestions for pea-sized abscess treatment, but not ones that are larger. Was that intentional?


    • Gilbert Luna

       /  August 13, 2017


  43. Clare

     /  December 15, 2016

    Urgent, urgent, urgent!!!!! I have been a i.v user for over 10yrs now an luckily I have not had an access. I do however know what they look like. Anyway, about 5days ago I had a snowball in the left groin, there was now immediate problem but the next day my left thigh was swollen and it just got worse, now my left groin has a lump and I have to crawl to get to the toilet as I cannot walk. The lump is not red nor hot or sore to touch, the pain I get is when I try to walk.

  44. tyla

     /  October 21, 2016

    So where to begin.. I relapsed after being clean for a month & I’ve been on a 3 week binger. I muscled a shot into my bicep, already knowing that it’s not smart. But anyways my muscle has been rock hard I cannot flex or straighten my arm outwards & the pain & swelling is excruciating.
    Ive had this going on( & only getting worse) for almost 2 weeks now. The past 3 days maybe 4 I’ve had the chills, labourer breathing & 100.2 fever.
    I know how serious this is. But I can’t bring myself to go to the er becos I’m afraid of being looked down on. How do I find a sympathetic Dr. & how long do I have until its fatal.?
    My arm is not coming to a head. Its bigger & harder than a grapefruit & I qaa hoping I could wait it out to see if I get better.
    Please let me know immediately. Also I have hep c & another abscess on my thigh that I can easily take care of myself.
    Thank you so much.

    • K

       /  August 23, 2017

      Look, I’ve been using for 21years and have had complications like you wouldn’t believe (mostly from muscling due to collapsed veins..
      Trust me on this…GET TO THE E.R. IMMEDIATELY!!! You can lose your arm if not your life!!!! Who gives a Fuck what people might think. You have cellulitis (infection of the soft tissue). Also, really really deep inside is a really bad abscess. . if he tries to tell you there’s no abscess, demand the doc get you an MRI or ultrasound on affected arm as these will prove doc wrong and he will then get you the treatment you need immediately. You will probably need to be admitted since you’ve waited so long.
      Please update me when you do take care of it. I’ve had surgery for exact thing 3x just for arms and had to be admitted to hospital for almost 2 weeks one of those times.

      • ZoeRea

         /  March 15, 2018

        I nearly lost my foot. Fuck everyone else. Sepsis is no joke. Every damn day is now a blessing knowing how close I came to death but getting a second chance BECAUSE I WENT TO THE HOSPITAL IN TIME (Barely. My staph was septic already.)
        God, I read these comments and it breaks my heart knowing some of these people won’t get medical attention due to fear of others opinions

      • Jess

         /  March 30, 2018

        Its more of a question i have been shooting herion for years but just now i did and my whole arm is red. And swollen really bad i cant even close my hand its si swollen any idea why??? Really scared

    • Allie Says

       /  September 16, 2020

      So I know this post is like four years old nonetheless it’s good for people to know most states have some sort of harm reduction coalition typically in multiple cities you can call them 24 hours a day there’s always a nurse and typically a doctor on call even just to talk to
      or you can even just send them pictures if it’s not that bad they’ll even prescribe you meds if you’re close enough they can even hook you up with an advocate to go with you to the ERso there’s somebody there to stick up for you or to explain things to you or to just not let them treat you like shit or just tell you which hospitals or clinics are less judgmental. But they also are amazing when it comes to making sure people have clean supplies cotton swabs syringes you can even get fentanyl test strips if you’re close enough they’ll bring them to you if you live under a bridge they’ll bring them to you last time I was hooked up with them the town I live near and around is horrible and the closest harm reduction is almost an hour and a half away not to mention most people have never even heard of it I was selling drugs at the time I frequented a lot of drug houses or trap houses and I talk to them for a long time about what I was trying to do one day they brought me a whole van load of supplies of everything you could think ofl including boxes of naloxone packs for drug overdoses use those resources people everything is anonymous if you wanted to be none of it is State mandated are funded is simply people that give a shit it’s kind of like not telling a prostitute she’s a whore but giving her a pack of condoms so she can be safe Don’t call them junkies give him a pack of fucking clean needles
      Now there’s another thing I don’t know if it’s everywhere but it is here in Iowa it’s called the safe consumption zone or safe consumption site it’s basically a place you can go into with booths with cameras with nurses watching you can either hit yourself by yourself or ask for help they’d rather you not die you’re going to do it regardless so teach them how to do it right we can use whatever kind of drugs you want and do them however you want to do them doesn’t mean you have to be reckless yes there’s plenty of people to look down on us Tell us were worthless waste of life junkies remember there’s just as many people that give a shit and want us to be safe not everybody enjoys the rising number of od’s that are coming into the hospitals but if people were knowledgeable about how to save people or how to check on the drugs you’re doing or even no where to take the person you’re with that’s possibly Od’n instead of leaving them because of the thought of possible consequence knowledge is always power in cases like blissful ignorance does not check out on that note be careful use responsibly look out for others and don’t be shitty ass people that fuck our drugs up primarily for a little extra profit karma tends to get you before the devil

      • Thank you soooo much for all that information because people DO read the comments and ALWAYS want to know where to get help or advice and I LOVE that u mentioned the user unions because they are out there everywhere now, certainly across the USA and if u haven’t got one in your town or city, start one!! Because u have comrades all over the world who are right here ready to stand up with you, support u, guide u, strategize with you and more!! It’s a wonderful calling being an activist for creating a better world, it feels good and meaningful and it’s a way for us to really USE all that amazing knowledge we have gained from lifes travels – don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s wasted or you wasted your life. That’s compete bullshit! You have invaluable insights you can apply to solve huge issues – get involved! Thanks so much for your great comment!

    • Denise

       /  January 12, 2021

      Hope everything turned out ok..
      Were you able to avoid going to the ER?

  45. Nikki Smith

     /  September 26, 2016

    I have a friend that has an infection and it’s causing other holes in the same area of his back and pus is coming out of all of the holes where there was once one whole he had surgery and it got infected and now there’s 5 holes around that hole pus coming out of all of them. He does not use needles out of this is smoke weed but I know that from the surgery it got infected and he didn’t clean his self right so it stayed infected butt there’s no head to it everyday I push on it and sometimes a lot of Hustle come out and sometimes just a little but it never stops coming out

  46. Jack

     /  September 12, 2016

    OK so I’m 24 and I have been slamming for almost 5 yrs now. So my ol faithful’s my ditch on both arms were great until I missed just enough on both sides to create small knots on top of scar tissue from repeated use like from 1 thru 5 or 6 shots a day no less than 40cc nd so very rarely I can get them. I went to my breasts nd now I have knots all over them. So I did a shot nd after I pulled out the point I noticed it was black like a blood blister then it scabbard over well my bf told me to peel it off nd I did because I had had one one my boob nd I peeled the scab there was white or yellow pus but it heald up so I didn’t think this would be different but when I peeled off the scab I realized it was still attached to my skin but it didn’t hurt so I finally got it off nd I was left with a hole smaller than a dime it was fine until everyone told me I should clean it so I put peroxide on it nd now it is crusting nd like 1 or 2 inches above it is super tender when I bend my arm with any pressure I can feel the loss of circulation my hand gets cold nd falls asleep. Also I did it on both sides hoping I could get to faithful but on the other side it’s just black size of a dime no scab no pain no knot other than scar tissue. I don’t want to duck around nd get staff. Especially a week before I go to an inpatient.

  47. celena

     /  September 2, 2016

    hi my question is this .I missed a shot in my left arm right down from my elbow.well it instantly burned and I knew I missed some so I stopped.it got really big and swollen and nthere was a lot of heat.i did the cold and hot compresses for a few days and the swelling and redness and heat all minimized and now its about the size of a half dollar and has just made a small circle with a white center ..it looks like a pimple with a white head and all around it is really hard and its itching all around it.i nhavent popped it but do I have to go to a dr.or what do I do alo I found some antibotics that I had from a while ago and ive been taking them for 2 days.please tell me what to do..

  48. Kat

     /  August 30, 2016

    URGENT****URGENT****URGENT**** I recently started IV usage, but even before that i would get abcesses on my inner thighs, groin, breast and armpit area and occasionally on the buttocks. However for approximately 4 days now i have a bump (abcess?) On my arm you know the part that waves with you when u do? Anyways 2 days ago it hurt, now its just a little tender and not hot but kind of warm. I chalked the hurting up 2 days ago due to the fact that i use my arms at work and the seam of my shirt rubbed it endlessly. I dont want people to k ow what i have been doing because i am ashamed. Weak and ashamed does this sound like something i can wait out. I don’t feel ill at all its really more of a nuisance than any thing but i would say it is a bit bigger than a nickle right now. Any advice for a first time fool? Normalky i just let them open on there own sometimes with gentle pressure on the sides from me.

  49. Lina Lee

     /  August 27, 2016

    This information was extremely helpful. It didn’t however explain the issue I’m having. I have been injecting heroin into my thumb on the lower part close to my wrist the past few days and I been noticing after I do it while it’s creeping up my arm certain spots specifically my wrist will hurt for a couple seconds bit now I’ve noticed on my upper forearm close to my elbow a hard red lump forming which I believe is an abscess. And I haven’t injected anything in that area.what is the cause of this???

    • Gren

       /  September 7, 2018

      Because the veins of your wrists/ hands/ forearms are small the walls of those vessels are much thinner & tend to leak. This means that, even with your needle solidly in the vein, small amounts of the drug are still released under the skin. The 1st 2-3 times it may just burn but, eventually, as you’ve described, it builds up. This leads to swelling & fluid retention. That forces the drugs being released to be pushed higher up your arm… See where I’m going? Since this was posted over 2 years ago I’m sure you’ve long since figured it your troubles. Hopefully, you’ve grown as an addict & have learned since then but let me see this anyway: YOU NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN SHOOTING IN THAT AREA. That’s an accidental, arterial injection waiting to happen. And those, my young Padawan are horrific, painful, sometimes life threatening, often limb threatening, always finger threatening, hard to get over, it only takes one, kind of mistakes.

  50. Dee

     /  August 14, 2016

    Some of the information I read above was very informative but some worried me a little because of what has happened to me because of missing the vein while injecting cocaine and heroin… Both at seperate times. An abcess does not necessarily form at the site you missed. They can occur anywhere in your body. I had an abcess form in my back a month or so after my boyfriend had one occur in his knee. Neither of these abscesses occured anywhere remotely near the injection site. It can take weeks for an abcess to fully form and as a complication of mine, I became paralyzed from my chest down. The abcess actually compressed my spinal cord, requiring immediate surgery by a neurosurgeon and nearly a year of hospitalization and the rest of my life to deal with constant pain, physical therapy and the complications of a spinal epidural abcess. Eventhough I have been clean since the injury, I am met with stigma and treated as an addict by every doctor I see since they all seem well aware that epidural abscesses that compress the spinal cord are primarily a result of drug injection. If you have an abcess or even just an area of your body that is extremely painful and may be hot to the touch or swollen then go to the hospital immediately and let them know that your specifically concerned it could be an abcess and then pray they will actually take you seriously and actually look into it. The abcess could be deep in your skin where you can’t see what it is, can occur anywhere and will not go away on its own. I really appreciate that someone is at least willing to address this issue and hope nobody else has to deal with what I have ever again.

    • Thanks for this message -and you are of course 100% correct – abscesses do not have to be on the site of injection – that can pop up anywhere and they can eat away huge areas of skin and muscle and can fuse to things inside your body. What a horrific story! I am so glad you have shared that with us here because maybe it might help encourage -even one person – to get to the Drs faster than they might have. To have it press on your spinal cord sounds horrific, and very very frightening -if you are ever up for writing about this – 400-700 words – we would really like to publish it here – I think its an important story. Im glad your healthy these days but tragic you still have to put up with the stigma of being a drug user. There is NO PLACE for such judgements in medicine and health care!!! Thanks so much for sharing with us – Ill go through the article thats here now on abscesses and add something about abscesses you cant nec see. Thanks again, BP x

      • tyla

         /  October 22, 2016

        *URGENT* *URGENT*
        So where to begin.. I relapsed after being clean for a month & I’ve been on a 3 week binger. I muscled a shot into my bicep, already knowing that it’s not smart. But anyways my muscle has been rock hard I cannot flex or straighten my arm outwards & the pain & swelling is excruciating.
        Ive had this going on( & only getting worse) for almost 2 weeks now. The past 3 days maybe 4 I’ve had the chills, labourer breathing & 100.2 fever.
        I know how serious this is. But I can’t bring myself to go to the er becos I’m afraid of being looked down on. How do I find a sympathetic Dr. & how long do I have until its fatal.?
        My arm is not coming to a head. Its bigger & harder than a grapefruit & I qaa hoping I could wait it out to see if I get better.
        Please let me know immediately. Also I have hep c & another abscess on my thigh that I can easily take care of myself.
        Thank you so much.

      • Jamie Walker

         /  March 2, 2020

        I had several misses/access I had popped then all of a sudden at work one day just felt weird that the world was tilted. Next morning I could not lift my head went to er spent hours trying to get iv…then I don’t remember too much except waking up on life support I had BOTULISM. Wound botulism. I stopped breathing, as I i was basically paralyzed my muscles were weak , lungs being a muscle I couldn’t breathe on my own. Was on life support for two months the doctors had NO CLUE what was wrong, got the anti-toxin ($100,000.00 flown to Cali from Georgia) as last resort, luckily I started getting stronger finally after 3 months 4 hospitals, months of rehab learning to walk and talk and build strength again i am alive. They nurses never once told my family when she goes home..they always said IF…I was not expected to survive, and I had no idea what I did wrong. Until researching if use and botulsim, abscesses..ARE SERIOUS…NO JOKE, DON’T TAKE THEM LIGHTLY, if you are even slightly worried go get medical attention. I would have been dead had a waited another day,

    • Anastasiya

       /  December 15, 2018

      Dude thank you for sharing this, very informative and helpful. I thought I knew it all, like what was likely the cause of various IV related skin/tissue related issues, as well as how to treat them and when to go to the ER, etc. But I did not know this and I will always keep that in mind if I ever experience something similar. Before reading your post I would have just waited a few days to a week, in hopes that I would go away on it’s own. Your story should honestly be included in the main text.

  51. *****URGENT*****URGENT****URGENT** I missed a vein about a week ago shooting up herion. I noticed that I’d missed almost immediately. I had redness and the area went hard ( as normal). However I’ve been taking antibiotics but despite this the hard area has spread. Yesterday my husband tried to pop it ( without a head), as it was raised quite largely and red in a certain area. This didn’t work. I then took a hot shower and left it. Then later on in noticed it had softened abit and became pointed. I was feeling around and I felt a massive pop under my skin ( obviously the sac). Now my forearm is almost totally hard, it’s red and inflamed. I’ve got cold sweats, but feel flushed and I’m feeling unwell. I’ve found my breathing is abit more laboured ( but I’ve COPD), so don’t know if that means anything but my arms aching, hurting quite bad and I’m also Hep C positive. I’m really scared and don’t know what to do !!! Could you PLS get back to me asap, as I’m really worried. THANKYOU !! X

    • OMG Im soooo sorry to miss this! We havent been online the last couple of months due to a few things – Im really sorry because you should definitely 100% need to go and see a doctor and I really hope you did as it sounds like you were potentially about to get -if you hadn’t already – septicemia. I hope the sheer terrible way you felt meant you would have got to hospital? Do let us know what happened to you and if your ok? We worry about our readers and always hope they are ok and survive these traumas! take care Michelle!! BP x

  52. Shirley

     /  July 18, 2016

    I read through this article in hopes to find an anwser, but did not. Article was still very good by the way . I missed in my thumb/wrist area. Below my thumb, but above the little wrist bone. It didnt form a knot or lump. It just hurt a little when it happend. As time passed it started to hurt very bad. Its been two days now since it happend. My concern is that I may have hit a tendon or ligament. The injection sight and the area around it is swollen, hot to the touch, not really red but it’s pinker than the rest of my skin and very very painful. I can’t make a fist or any hand motion that consist of my thumb is a no go. I’m not sure what to do with it. As of now just watching to see if it gets any worse. Any suggestions on this??

    • Im sorry for the late reply – I imagine you have dealt with this by now – but yes, it sounds like a classic abscess and one that needs treating especially because of its location. You see, in the hand / thumb in your case, there is nowhere for the bad puss and stuff to go, so it has more chance of affecting an important nerve or joint as it spreads across the hand area in order to find somewhere to accommodate all the growing infection. Eventually it will head up of course and need to burst / drain -but god only knows you need some help to do this around such a sensitive area in order to avoid permanent damage and more infection. take care of yourself Shirley and I hope it worked out ok. It is a hard place to inject around there and Im sure you wouldnt be going there unless you had some other choices. If you DO have choices – move away from the wrist area -its dangerous. Otherwise keep the needle size and gauge very fine and short. take care BPx

  53. Fred

     /  July 15, 2016

    URGENT Previous comment should have been marked URGENT

  54. Fred

     /  July 15, 2016

    I was clean for about two years, then recently had a two week cocaine binge, second week I started injecting in my groin. It was all fine but on the final day of it the whole area swelled up (on both sides). I immediately snapped out of it and stopped it all. That was about 8 days ago. The swelling has mostly gone down. I was in pain in the area and that seems to have faded. There are some hard areas around the groin (but then there was from before) and I put it down to scar tissue build up and a small red spot on the left side.
    I had some fluxotine anti biotics and took them also this last week and kept putting savalon on the area (an anti-spectic cream).
    But now, they last couple of days, I have been getting a numb right leg and foot. Like the circulation has slowed down. Very worried. Maybe I should stop smoking cigarettes too….
    Any advice on why my right would be feeling numb and what I can do to help? I am trying to avoid going to a doctors…

  55. My son (adult) was in the hospital a couple of months ago and developed an abscess? at the IV site after he left the hospital. He went to ER and they said it was cellulitis and lanced it and drained a very fluid like substance. (You have a picture of an arm on your site that has a large red lump on the inside of arm that looked almost identical.)

    Now this week he has another lump, following a blood draw last week at doctors lab. This lump is about 3″ x 3″ or a bit larger. It is red and hot. My son went back to ER and when they tried to drain it, just blood came out. They did an ultrasound and said he was fine and gave him antibiotics. He was told the lump was hard and so it had not abscessed yet. The lump was a sac of fluid (blood).

    My son has Lyme Disease and has a low immune system, so maybe that explains why he is susceptible.

    I’m confused though about the sac of blood. What caused it and why do you not try to drain it. I asked them if there was any chance it could turn into MRSA and was told my son wouldn’t have an arm if it was MRSA.

  56. Lizzie

     /  June 25, 2016

    Thank you

  57. Drew Franks

     /  June 10, 2016

    I need a sympathetic Doctor in the
    Idaho Falls, Idaho USA area. I have insurance and a good job but will loose the job if found out. The area of infection is on lower arm and it’s hot this time of year so covering it is out of the question for too long. This town I live in is small and very conservative and over ran by LDS Mormons. Please help. I have no idea how to find a sympathetic Doctor here and have tomorrow off and need to do it then. It’s 06/09/16 and need to find a doctor tomorrow 06/10/16 in the a.m. MST USA. Please help, I want medical attention, it’s early, about two days old but defenatly there. Please help.

  58. Chris

     /  June 1, 2016

    Hello. So today is day 6-ish of what I believe to be an infected, not sterile, abscess located on my hand. I’m not 100% sure if it his, though? While it displays all the symptoms, hot to the touch, swelling, pain etc, there has been zero drainage and there isn’t a head to pop. Before I read this beautifully informative article I did what everybody does, today I poked and tried to burst it… Just ended up hurting a lot more and the redness is more prevalent. It almost was not getting worse, even almost better, most likely the same as far as symptoms go, until today ewhen i messedd with it. It doesn’t seem there’s much if any pus inside…. What should I do? Maybe it’ll just go away?? I do hot compresses but I read that might be not ideal for this situation/stage. I’m sure seeing a doctor is preferred, but couldn’t my body possibly fight it off, especially if I try and help by applying hot compresses? Thanks, would send a picture if possible.

  59. Chris Holloway

     /  May 20, 2016

    My name is Chris and im try n to get some info. I have never shot up before thats why im asking these questions. My GF use to shoot up. I met her last Oct and she had hard bumps all over her arms and all up her legs. She told me she had stopped using a year previous. So how long after some one uses can these bumps keep popping up. and how long does it take for them to go away. She had them pop up just a month or two ago too. but they r really starting to clear up now. Im just try n to figure out if she is still use n or not. Thanks. Chris

    • Dear Chris,
      Lumps and bumps on the arms and legs can indeed be from shooting up but its very hard to tell from yuor description; if she injects into the muscle or under the skin then lumps and bumps are very likely -they can pop up and some dont go away all. it depends a lot on WHAT it was/is she has been injecting. Are they lumps or are they red lumps? if they are red -or sore – or look swollen -then she needs to see the doctor asap -as it means she has abscesses which could be very dangerous. Having more than one abscess -like connecting ones is also very dangerous and she would urgently need medical attention. Was she shooting pills? Was it in the vein or in the muscle? These things will make a difference to the outcome. Either way it sounds like she should go and get them checked out -she shouldnt have bumps everywhere -either she is injecting shitty stuff/tar/pills or into the muscle or skin -and she needs to talk to someone about what she is doing/had been doing and whether there is safer harm reduction info she could get that would help prevent her getting these bumps. Have you a local needle exchange with good staff in the area? Can she go straight to a doctor for them to have a look? My advice is for her to get checked out by a doctor and then go to a needle exchange or similar service so they can help her with her injecting technique and see if there is anything that could be done to support her. Your a good boyfriend, encourage her, try not to push -get her to see a doctor but also find out maybe where she could go for unjudgemental help.? It is hard but its important to try and keep the hand of friendship and support as much as you feel able. people do get isolated and that ends up worse. take care Chris – do write back with more detials if you wish to. all the best, BPx

  60. Surtsey

     /  May 9, 2016

    Homeopathy does not work beyond placebo for the “worried well” with money to waste. Recommending homeopathic “remedies” is worse than useless especially for abscesses and infections. These “remedies” do not work, they are a waste of money and most appallingly, provide a false sense of “treatment”. For such an informed and responsible site, I am very sad that you’ve including such bullshit in this otherwise excellent article.

    • Hi!
      Thanks for pointing this out – you are right -this slipped through in the sense that when we updated this section recently, we wanted to put something in about home treatment of abscesses. While personally we are against this idea – we know that many injectors do try and manage these things themselves – we were kind of left with the option of – do we just say ‘go to the Dr any time you have any abscess just in case it gets bad etc’ when we know people are going to sit there and try and drain, poke and prod their abscess. So we decided to add some info about what you could do at home (which you can in an ideal world when you have clean cloths, access to water, money for the pharmacy etc) because people WILL have a go -and maybe there should be the info to at least do it properly. But I totally take your point and I am going to rewrite that section and take out the homeopathic stuff, I will leave in the clay as that is tried and tested as usuful for drawing out infection in very small areas – but thanks a million for pointing this out -you are right -and I will rewrite. Glad you like the rest of the piece though – but it does need a tidy up. I am just working on a nice new website for us -so that will be great – for aug this year. Thanks again, BP x

      • V Huston

         /  September 30, 2016

        I have had luck with one home remedy as far as getting an abscess to come to a head and drain successfully.
        You crack fresh eggs, peel out the “white, milky colored” lining and cover the abscess generously with the lining then keep it covered with dry, sterile gauze until it opens. Usually this will take 24-48 hours, applying fresh egg lining and bandages in the morning and at night. The abscess will open on its own…there’s no need to poke, pick, squeeze or do any of those things you are NOT supposed to do. But I can’t stress enough, like you do…keep everything sterile!!! YOU CANNOT KEEP IT CLEAN ENOUGH!!!
        If you aren’t sure or think it MIGHT BE TIME to change the bandages…IT’S PASSED THAT TIME!!!
        You’re better safe than sorry!!!

  61. jessica clowers

     /  April 4, 2016

    im new to all of this and never have i did my homework in info with this topitc boy do i wish i had… i have asome small red painfull hot spots on my iner thigh the out side ,y butt and to on my neck one on my arm and two are on my hand and had one on my toe. that one was gbad even looked green and yellow. i started with a few now im up to 15 to 25 spots. a few hAS hieled nicsly but some still hurt or came back up. i think i smell somthing all the time but my husband says he dont small anthing. now i have them on my face and this morning i got up and had on my forhead its big and its tight warm im so scard to go to the dr bc my arms are not good looking do to trying to find a vain. ive been taken care of the spots my self and have done a really good job the one that ws green and yellow is almost gone but it llooks like something bit a pices of my toe out. ive also took pictures; what do i do im worred and i dont want to die.

  62. Dean

     /  April 2, 2016

    A friend of mine shot up with heroin and had a Miss and had an abscess and apparently when she drained it she did squeeze it what if you do squeeze it like what should you do or what signs should she look for to make sure it didn’t spread. I very worried about her

  63. Big Momma

     /  March 27, 2016

    Hi, I have been banging Dilaudid’s for 8 years now, on and off! About 1 week ago I hit my neck(like a Dummy) and missed! Now I have a serious Abscess on the right side of my neck!!!!! It Formed a Head and popped, omg, it was so Nasty and Smelled Really Really BAD!!!! SO now I have a Hole, the size of a DIME ON MY NECK!! I’m Scared to go to the ER cause of the way they Treat Junkies, like me!!! However, I have a Fever and A LOT OF PAIN!!!!! IM NOT SURE WHAT TO DO NEXT???!!!! IM LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR RESPONSE!!!! THANKS! I TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR WEB SITE!!!! YOU ROCK!!!!!
    Big Momma

    • Hi Big Momma – you have GOT to get to the ER NOW!!! Fever almost always means you have an infection that has gone into the bloodstram – ie -it has broken out of the little cavity that your body makes for it and has leaked into your bloodstream. From there it is only a matter of time until you can get septicemia. -My friend – this can be fatal. And fatal very quickly – like in days. Please dont hesitate. If you are hesitant -grab a thermometer from the chemist and take your temperature NOW; any deviation from normal over the space of 6-10 hours -like if it consistently over normal -(normal is 36 -37.5 -Celsius) you MUST MUST MUST get to the A&E. Good luck my friend. Regardless of the temp -to have an abcess on the neck is seriously dangerous and you MUST be sure to get it treated – it is much to close to the brain and way to many things can go wrong. DONT mess about friend -and get into the A&E. I hear your fears about being judged -sometimes it helps when you arrive to say quietly to the nurse and Dr aswell – look them straight in the eye and say – ” I know you must have preconceived ideas about injecting drug users, and I know we have a system in this country where there is very little treatment available so many injectors end up in A&E in crisis, and I appreciate that must get hard for everyone concerned; but please know that I have a mother and father who love me and I love them (and kids etc!) and I am asking you to withold any preconceptions you may unconsciously carry about junkies on the wards, and see me for me – a person and a human being that needs your help.” Try and touch them on the arm very gently as you say it – it is amazing how this can help break down barriers. Good luck my friend – go now! BPx

  64. Chelle

     /  March 10, 2016

    I’ve been shooting Meth for a few months and other then bruising and minor lumps that have gone away I haven’t had any problems. I have a few knots in my arm at the bend of my elbow from about a week ago but there’s no swelling or pain and don’t feel warm at all so I wasn’t really concerned. Tonight when I did a shot when I drew back there was white/yellowish liquid along with my blood but unfortunately I didn’t realize it until I was almost done injecting my shot. I’ve seen pictures and know what infection looks like and I’m pretty sure that’s what it was… should I b concerned that I have an abscess and possibly just shot infection straight into my blood stream? This was about 8:00 tonight and it’s now 1:19 in the morning…. I feel fine and there’s no pain or swelling and I don’t seem to b running a fever or anything…. but I’m not sure how soon I would b showing signs that I need to go to the er?

    • Hi Chelle, you are right to be concerned -it sounds like you have gotten away with it -as we do more times than seems reasonable sometimes!! – but I think you need to keep a very close eye on yourself over the next 3-4 days and if you come down with ANY sort of fever – then go straight to Emergency. It can be a sign of septicaemia which of course if left untreated can be fatal. Keep a close ey on yourself Chelle and if you have a partner ask them to be tuned in to notice any changes like rashes, hot and sweaty, confusion etc. Take care of yourself -keep up the hygiene to avoid contamination with bacteria although it sounds like it might have been a foreign body in your ‘possibly sterile’ abscess. But I don’t know what this means for the stuff that has isolated the site -whether it is infectious or not – it could be either. Either way -not good to shoot up so you better change sites while it heals. Good luck! BP x

  65. Rebecca Rae Jennings

     /  February 26, 2016

    I just wanted to say that this was extremely informative and I actually enjoyed reading every bit of it because I was actually very concerned about some of the things that are going on in my arms right now from injecting methamphetamine and this helped me not worry so much about what I THOUGHT was wrong, but also to educate me on the things I wasn’t sure of. Thank you for sharing this valuable information!

  66. Darya

     /  January 10, 2016

    Hi . I been skin popping in my buttocks and had allot of abscesses that I learn on how to heal properly but a week ago I had 3 small ones very close to each other and when they raptured I saw a huge hole . I put a clean gouge and it been oozing with some Liquid smelly substance . I had some penicillin that doc gave me when I had my first abscess so I start taking it to just make sure the infection would not go else where . It scared me to death . I don’t know what to do ?! Any advice ? I would be very great full . I would also like to know how I can quit and detox !

    • jdjd

       /  January 15, 2016

      Go to the doctor.

    • Hi,
      Well, it seems like you have got quite a bad infection going on – recurrent abscesses or abscesses that appear in a little group as though they are spreading, may be related to colonization with an abscess-inducing subspecies of a common skin bacterium (Staphylococcus aureus). In addition, Abscesses in the buttock area can continue to grow for many weeks without producing any symptoms, resulting in a cavity that may be filled with up to a litre of pus. Bacteraemia and septicaemia, with the formation of multiple new abscesses (“seeding” of infection) such as in the joints, pleura (lung) or other areas can be devastating for a patient; But listen -you know you have them so I would go back to your doctor if you haven’t seen them recently and expect to receive a very strong dose of antibiotics such as cloxacillin plus gentamicin (a very strong -one of the strongest antibiotics). Keep a very close eye on things and should you get ANY kind of fever, sweating, or delirium – it is CRITICAL you get to a hospital as it means you probably have septicaemia. Never delay something like that. So yes, see your doctor and get the right kind of anti biotics.

  67. Newbyjunkie

     /  January 6, 2016

    My GF and I shot up what i thought was herion, and turns out it was cooked up coca-cola…. what should we do?! Will we be okay?

    • jdjd

       /  January 15, 2016

      Many kinds of H are cut with coca cola. You will be fine.

    • jdjd

       /  January 15, 2016

      Taste your stuff before you use it in the future. Heroin should taste bitter and smell similar to vinegar. Hope this helps.

  68. Jen p

     /  October 29, 2015

    Thank you 😊

  69. King

     /  October 24, 2015


    • Hi,
      OK -well, this could be a missed hit -meaning that some of your fix seaped away from the vein and has infammed the surrounding tissues. This can go away by itself after the initial pain weirdly enough -but you need to keep a very close eye on what is happening. Follow the guide in the article -if it begins to reduce in swelling over the wider area but form a swollen or red kind of bump -you could have an abcess forming. The things that will tell you to get to a doctor fast will be – HEAT – RED ANGRY SWELLING, PAIN, and any sign of a pus filled head though this isnt always visible till very late in the process. Also -the big question -is it getting worse? After the initial swelling has gone -after say 2 days, THEN it is time to watch it very closely and see if it is getting worse, and becoming a little volcanoe underneath your skin….Keep your eye on things my friend. BP x

    • PS – AND DO NOT SQUEEZE!!!!!!!! Squeezing will just move the infection out of the contained area your body has made when fighting your infection. Never ever squeeze -let the doctors DRAIN, not you okay? Its way to dangerous to do shit like that and you can end up with blood poisoning.

      • Just to add, okay while people have been known to drain their own access, and in fact a lot of junkies do that due to the difficulty accessing/dealing with drs etc, and while it has removed the massive pain associated with a peaking abscess, it doesnt usually bode well. The abscess will just regroup in days, will spread around the site and even risk leaking into the bloodstream, it can basically make u very sick or run down and feverish. ANY SIGN OF FEVER IS MAJOR: dont ignore it and go strait to drs/emergency. Basically draining your own abscess is better than squeezing an abscess but it is still very risky to do yourself. Everything has to be sterile and unless u want a pit type scar, your abscess should be packed with special absorbant, fibrous material so it heals from the inside out. This is why you need to see the doc!

    • Hi, we have updated our abscess section massively and scanned for all the latest info on how to treat them. Check it out -and hope it helps!

  70. I shot up a with blood & heroin in my upper thigh. Its now red with a black looking scab in the middle.

    • Sounds like an abscess…..DONT SQUEEZE IT! It will just spread the infection and leave you with a worse scar -and it will take longer to heal. Your body takes care of these things really well -but you will need some antibiotics if it is sore. If it isnt sore it could be what is called a sterile abscess, and it will look after itself -but if it is sore -that is a sign it aint working out and you need to see a dr ok? Good luck!

  71. Jen P

     /  October 17, 2015

    Urgent Just wondering if you have advice to deter an abscess right as its forming. asking for a friend. I use to tie a tie around any miss for 30 min or so.. that helped discourage swelling or so it seemed. My friend has clotting issues so is leary of tying off any more than necessary, so I was curious of any home tricks or remedies anyone might know that could help break up the miss when its at first lump phase before developing further. Thank you

    • Hiya, I would say dont tie off after a miss – because you want the liquid to be able to dissolve properly and not to end up pooling in an area where it cant cope. Avoid tying off a missed hit, just do your hits really slow, always release your tourniquet when you start the injection of the liquid. Otherwise you will split or rupture the venous wall. Never have your tourniquet on for more than a couple of minutes -otherwise it has the OPPOSITE effect and blood will empty from the veins and be harder to hit. So keep it on -using a squeeze -not a mega hard squeeze (or you will empty the artery -you want the artery in your arm etc to still work but the vein to be held off tight.-careful and easy does it.

    • Hi, we have updated our abscess section massively and scanned for all the latest info on how to treat them. Check it out -and hope it helps!

  72. Kate Pace

     /  October 1, 2015

    I recently had a pretty big abscess right on my shoulder . It’s healed now but now when I shoot in the inside of my arm clear fluid sometimes leaks out of the hole. It leaks for kinda a long time. Dose this mean I still have an infection? If anyone knows anything about this please let me know thank you.

    • Hi Katie,
      Sorry for the delay, I hope this might still be relevant. You didn’t say how long ago the abscess was? Usually, whitish yellowish clear fluid will be your white blood cells, being their because you had an infection -so it COULD mean you still have a bit of infection OR, it could be that the abscess wasn’t drained properly. Was it drained or did it heal without being drained? You might need another go at antibiotics? Worth going to the Dr. If there is nothing sore anywhere or swollen, chances are there isn’t an infection however infection can move inside the bone so it is always a good idea to get to the drs. Hope that helps. BPx












    no blocked calls answered



    • Dear Howard, I am not sure what you mean by DMK creams? The redness around the healed abcess site -I am presuming it is not sore, swollen, irritated, growing in length/width etc? That would all be a sign of problems going on underneath and a dr visit highly recommended. If there is no pain at all, the skin in cool to touch (not cold or clammy) then it could just be the area recovering. Have you been a long term injector (in which case your circulation may be slower than normal -esp in lower legs / limbs) -or if you are over 55years and/or not fit or overweight. It sounds like something that happens in those who are indeed overweight or sedentry -or who dont exercise much. I would stress the imporance now of putting your legs above the heart whenever you get the chance too, this takes the pressure off your leg valves trying to push your blood back up to the heart, and preventing the chance of it ‘pooling’ in your lower legs, which causes discolouration. I cant stress enough how effective SOME fully herbal creams can be; in particular, a combination of calendula and arnica – a brilliant combo for healing and scars and under skin bruising. Hemp oil creams are really excellent for very dry skin. And good old Huroidoid cream -an over the counter pharmy cream -used for healing damaged veins as are other hemorrhoid type creams. But it sounds like bad circulation going on -and if you dont address it through gentle exercise, fluids, regular massaging of the legs (always in the direction from the toe towards the heart -up the leg) -please know that these measures will really help you -and its important you take it seriously as these are the conditions where ulcers can pop up and take hold -and they can be a real devil to get rid of, esp if you dont have free health care -the proper bandages are very expensive and unless you take good care of ulcers -they can hang around getting gradually bigger, unhealed, for years. Good luck -check out sites discussing ulcer care, post ulcer care etc. Good luck my friend. BP

  74. lori

     /  February 21, 2015

    Hi im 26 and i shot up meth and missed at the.end it blew my skin and i started bleeding it stoped so u thought oh ill be fine then now 3 days later i have black hole in the middle of a red hot swollen the middle is black and feels like a scab but wont come off idk what i should do or even what it is

    • Alexandra

       /  April 6, 2015

      Did you find out what it was or how to take care of it. I have the same thing

    • jimmy

       /  April 17, 2015

      It’s mrsa, Google pics of it

      • Hi, we have updated our abscess section massively and scanned for all the latest info on how to treat them. Check it out -and hope it helps!

    • jimmy

       /  April 17, 2015

      Ichthammol ointment, $8 CVS. Google it for directions.

    • Derrick

       /  September 5, 2015

      hey ive had the very samething 3 diff times. Ive been taking care of my own abscesses for years now bc i havent had insurance and the er trips are expensive. the worst one i had was just as you described. i had a red swollen area w a lump, and a kind of yellow blister in the middle, i popped the blister, and a day or two after that i found that a perfect circle had formed inthe middle of the abscess w a black scab looking thing. I left it alone a few more days figuring id handle it like a normal abscess. the black hole started getting bigger and i started to freak on it. so i went ahead and popped it like a normal abscess, but noticed whatever the black stuff was seemed to go pretty deep, and it seemed like it was blocking any pus from draining out. so i got sterile tweezers and started picking and pulling at the black stuff and when i got a decent amount of it out i used the tip of a needle and pushed the remaining black stuff to the side and TONS of totally FOUL smelling pus started pouring out. it was disgusting and im getting goosebumps recalling this all. anyway over the next few days i continued to pick out the black stuff til it was all gone, the pus continued to drain, and it eventually healed up fine, tho it left a decent sized circular scar there. never found out for sure what it was, so interested to know if you had, or how you handled it. btw it was from slamming h.

    • You have an abscess girlfriend -definately. If it is not sore -you are lucky -it is probably sterile and as long as you dont pick it (and therefore let the infection escape from the cavity its fenced in) it should heal -but if it hurts at all, gets angry red and swollen -you MUST see a dr. Antibiotics are the ONLY way to deal with these. Remember -you can get blood poisoning and ultimately die (ala Anna Nicole Smith) if you leave an angry abcess. Make sure to see a Dr Lori! Good luck, BPx

    • Hi, we have updated our abscess section massively and scanned for all the latest info on how to treat them. Check it out -and hope it helps!

    • Hi, we have updated our abscess section massively and scanned for all the latest info on how to treat them. Check it out -and hope this helps in future!

  75. So I’m 25, turning 26 in September. I have insurance through my parent’s but it will run out soon. I just quit shooting heroin (11 days now!) But before quitting I was injecting into my butt muscle pretty much 3 times a day. I have multiple abscesses, some healed but left my skin concave. I still have about 4 areas on the side of my butt that drain if I press on them. Even just sitting in a chair, it’s like I’ll come home at the end of the day and my underwear will have dried leakage from the abscesses on both sides of my boxers. I think the obvious thing is to see a doctor-which I can do- but anything I can do about the healed concave brown skin on the sides of my butt from healed abscesses? WHAT SHOULD I DO IN GENERAL? I’m clean but can my body heal? I used to have a great butt (lol) but now it’s got open sores and concave Brown areas all over. Any help much appreciated!

    • Marcus, Im afraid anything concave on your butt, will stay concave -nothing short of plastic surgary will fix that problem. There are however some truely incredible camoflage creams available these days for peoples face and bodies -google it -that can cover them up really well. But being on your bum -the only thing I can suggest (please people chip in with comments if you have ideas for Marcus) -is vitamin E oil, BIO E Oil? it might be called? Works brilliantly to face scars -it is basically pure vitamin E. If you improve your intake of these vitamins, including zinc, via diet and good quality vitamins (worth researching the best types -liquid vs tablet vs powder etc) and increasing your vegetable intake (esp vegie juices), massage the oli into your bum regularly -very regulary -at least once a day -you will see an improvement after 3-6 months. Its worth it -and boy, bum massages feel unreal! (so ask your partner!). Its really important you do this as like you say -your skin can just dry out, crack and ulcers pop up that are really hard to get rid off. If you start now looking after your bum – at your age -you will ward off some problems later in life for sure. Getting elasticity into the skin is what you want -and ciirculation to the surface areas of your bum -which will also help the discolouration. Good luck Marcus, your a young’un, so you have the chance to pull back from further disasters with your health – good luck on your journey. BP

  76. URGENT :: Shot up in the veins on my bisepts and missed or had the cord to tight and it blew up my vein and missed it all in one. Feels like half a golf ball in my arm. Not to painful but I don’t know if these ones will go away like others I have had. Any help Thanks. Doctor is last resort. Family will disown me.

    • Hi Michael,

      The question you raise is a serious one. While I can respect that you have very legitimate concerns about being disowned by your family, you need to place your personal health and safety above these concerns. It sounds like you’re going to be ok anyhow, but here are some basic things to watch out for:

      1) increased swelling at the injection site, or around it
      2) heat coming off of the wound
      3) breaking open of the wound and the release of infected discharge
      4) increase in general symptoms related to skin and blood infections (explained below)

      Many injection failures, like the one you’ve suffered, result in some kind of damage to the skin and surrounding tissues. You are best advised to keep the wound clean; to apply ice to reduce swelling; to watch out for an increase in the heat being given off by the wound (ie: if it’s getting hotter to the touch, chances are good that infection is increasing); watch out for a rise in your general temperature as well as feelings of nausea and other physical indicators of a general infection.

      If the wound does not start to go down in swelling, or if you should start to experience any of the additional symptoms described above, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in additional damage being caused to the injection site and, in the worst case scenarios, could even lead to loss of the arm or death from blood infections. It may be possible for you to access help anonymously through a specialized drug service/agency (such as a needle exchange or other specialist Harm Reduction program). Failing this, you should remember that you CAN access casualty (A and E) hospital services without being identified – that is, you may be asked for your name (and address), but not for evidence of your identity (eg. drivers license). If, however, they decide to admit you for treatment, they will require proper details of your ID – for instance, to communicate with your GP – so be prepared for that eventuality. In short: they will ask for name and address to start with, but they won’t check them or use them to contact your GP unless you’re being admitted to a ward for treatment. If you have any serious concerns about this injury, I suggest that you get it checked out as soon as possible. And, if you are currently making use of NEP services right now, particularly through pharmacies, your should use the Terumo needles provided in the WHITE kit, and then use the rest of the cooking equipment provided with the (terrible) “Filter Syringe” kits (this is how injection kits are made up in Liverpool – they may differ across the rest of the UK). Good luck mate; sincerely hope you start to feel better.
      Answered by: Dr. Nuke

  1. Abscesses; Sterile or Infected? | Black Poppy's Junk Mail

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