You may be able to help prevent skin abscesses with skin care and a healthy lifestyle. It is difficult to prevent internal abscesses as they are often complications of other conditions.
The following advice may help prevent skin abscesses.
Ensuring that your skin is clean, healthy and free of bacteria can help reduce the risk of skin abscesses developing.
You can reduce the risk of spreading bacteria by:
- washing your hands regularly
- encouraging people in your family to wash their hands regularly
- using separate towels and not sharing baths
- waiting until your skin abscess is fully treated and healed before using any communal equipment, such as gym equipment, saunas or swimming pools
Do not squeeze the pus out of the abscess yourself because this can easily spread the bacteria to other areas of your skin. If you use tissues to wipe any pus away from your abscess, dispose of them straight away to avoid germs spreading. Wash your hands after you have disposed of the tissues.
Take care when shaving your face, legs, underarm areas or bikini area to avoid nicking your skin. Clean any wounds immediately and visit your GP or local NHS walk-in centre if you think there may be something trapped in your skin. Do not share razors or toothbrushes.
Read more information about looking after your skin.
Eating a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can help your immune system work properly and fight off infection. Fruit and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals (aim to eat at least five portions a day).
Read about maintaining a healthy, balanced diet for more information about the different food groups.
If you are overweight, you are more at risk of developing skin abscesses.
This can occur as a result of bacteria found naturally on your body becoming trapped in the folds of your skin. People who are overweight or obese are also at greater risk of developing diabetes, which increases the likelihood of skin abscesses developing.
Read more information about losing weight.
Do not smoke
Smoking causes a wide range of serious health problems that can affect your immune system's ability to fight infection. If you smoke, giving up is the best thing you can do to improve your general health.
Your GP can give you help, advice and support about giving up smoking. You can also find more information and advice on the Smokefree website.
Read more information about quitting smoking.
Recurrent boils and abscesses
If you have relatives or close contacts with similar boils and abscesses, make sure you tell your GP so that they can organise testing for PVL-positive strains of bacteria.
Read more about how an abscess is diagnosed.