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What Is the Treatment for a Nasal Abscess?

By Nicole Long
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The treatment for a nasal abscess includes a thorough examination of the abscess and drainage of the pus. Once the abscess has been drained, steps are taken to treat any underlying infection. Other treatments for a nasal abscess may include pain management, such as warm compresses and medications to control pain.

Abscesses develop from an infection. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of abscesses, although fungal infections and parasitic infections are possible in some instances. As a result of the infection, pus begins to collect in the surrounding tissues and forms a pocket of pus.

Nasal abscesses often form along the tissues of the nasal cavity, such as the nasal septum that separates the nostrils in the center of the nose. They can stem from trauma to the nose, chronic bouts of sinusitis and dental infections. With the most common cause, trauma to the nose, abscesses develop when a hematoma becomes infected.

Symptoms of an abscess in the nasal cavity can vary in severity. The first signal of a nasal abscess may be pain and redness. Pain can range from minor to severe. Progression of the severity of an abscess typically includes nasal blockage, fever, headache and even difficulty breathing.

A thorough physical examination should confirm the presence of an abscess. Blood tests may also be done as well as cultures related to the pus collected during an examination to determine the cause of the abscess. Treatment will be based on the data collected during the examination.

Physicians may decide to drain the abscess through an incision. Large abscesses will require a surgical incision in the surrounding tissue and may require a drainage tube to help direct and collect the pus drainage. Small abscesses in the absence of other symptoms, such as severe pain and fever, may be left to drain on their own. This is done through the application of warm compresses.

Medications may be required to treat the underlying cause of the abscess. A physician may prescribe antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. The antibiotics will help eliminate bacteria in the nasal cavity and help eliminate the possibility of the return of an abscess. Antifungal medication will be prescribed for cases resulting from a fungal infection.

Pain management treatment and medications may also be required during the treatment process for an abscess in the nasal cavity. Warm compresses can help alleviate pain and inflammation of the nasal cavity. Options for pain medication can include over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, and prescription pain medications.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On May 25, 2012

@ddljohn-- You must have used oral antibiotics too right?

The first time I had a nasal abscess drained, my doctor only gave me a nasal spray with antibiotics to use. To be honest, I didn't use it very diligently and developed another infection!

It turns out that having an abscess drained puts us at risk for infections. So it should be followed with oral antibiotics. Since I didn't do that, I developed a really bad throat and ear infection in addition to my nasal one. I had to use three courses of antibiotics to get rid of it.

If anyone is told to just use sprays or do irrigation after abscess removal or draining, please advise another doctor. It may not be a complicated treatment, but it can be dangerous if it's not carefully cared for afterward.

By ddljohn — On May 24, 2012

@simrin-- Yep, that's probably as easy as nasal abscess treatment gets.

I had an unfortunate car accident a couple of years ago and developed a nasal septal abscess. The treatment was difficult and long. First I had surgery under sedation. The surgeon inserted a tube to drain out the abscess and then he flushed it out with liquid antibiotics to help prevent infection.

Because the abscess was caused by injury, I had to continue treatment at home. I irrigated my nose daily. I also had to use emollients to prevent the abscess from coming back and to prevent the blood from crusting over. Otherwise, it would have blocked my nasal passage.

It was close to a month before my nose completely healed and I could breathe well again. I also had a very annoying whistling sound while breathing through my nose which lasted a couple of weeks. It was not fun at all.

By SteamLouis — On May 24, 2012

I had nasal abscess last month because of a sinus infection. It was drained in the doctor's office with warm compresses and then I used a course of antibiotics for the infection.

It really was a lot easier than I expected. I know some people have to undergo a surgical operation to drain their nasal abscesses. I'm glad mine was not so serious. And the only symptoms I had was some redness and pressure on my nose along with congestion.

After the abscess was drained, the redness and pressure disappeared. I still had some congestion but that also resolved after the antibiotics cleared up the infection.

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