Cure Abscess with Hydrogen Peroxide

Can Hydrogen Peroxide Cure Abscess?

Have you ever contacted a skin lesion that results in pus formation? Well, that fluid-filled bubble is what we call an abscess. In essence, it is your body’s tactic to wall off the pathogen. Nonetheless, we still need to get rid of it!

Hydrogen peroxide has been declared one of the best agents to fight microbial growth across many articles and research papers.

And when it comes to skin infections, there are no bacteria more harmful than the notorious S. aureus, which often lead to a dangerous condition known as an abscess.

This leads us to question how effective hydrogen peroxide is in killing S. aureus and treating abscess infections. Is it another fluke, a layman’s hope for finding a shortcut to health? Or is hydrogen peroxide really the way to go.

We will be answering all of those questions and much more in the following sections. So without further ado, let’s begin!

Abscesses – What Are They?

Whenever we hear the word “abscess”, our mind automatically drives us to think of pus-filled zits. However, abscess and pimples are two completely different phenomena with a common denominator.

Abscess, more specifically skin abscesses, are a patch of epidermis that has a bump underneath. In contrast, pus and zits are dead white blood cells of the body, along with bacterial debris present over the skin. Both are forms of an infection (most commonly a bacterial one) that results in the formation of white-translucent pus.

When it comes to where abscesses are formed, they can theoretically develop on any part of the body. However, some sites are more common than others. You may see an abscess on:

  • Underarms
  • Groin
  • Back
  • Face
  • Chest
  • Buttocks

Treating an abscess depends on the severity of the condition. Most abscesses are not dangerous and resolve within a few days without treatment. You can speed up the healing process significantly by using some agents like topical creams (and hydrogen peroxide?).

Sometimes, however, the condition may require external interventions like drainage and laceration. Rarely, there are cases in which abscesses can be severe and may become lethal if left untreated.

So what is the cause behind this nasty medical condition?

Staph Aureus

An abscess forms whenever the body is unable to kill a pathogen and forms a sort of “shield” around the colony of the agent. These shields are seen as growths of purulent and pus-filled liquid.

Staphylococcus Aureus is by far the most common skin bacteria that leads to the formation of abscesses. The two reasons this happens are its tendency to infest the host’s outer surfaces and strong pathogenicity.

This bacteria may enter the body through a cut or a wound that leaves the body vulnerable to outer flora. This bacteria is the primary villain in hospitals and health centers because of how difficult it is to kill and how easily it can spread.

Fortunately for us, this bacteria is specific for the type of host they attack (mainly those with a weakened immune system or underlying conditions). Some of the conditions that may aggravate S. Aureus attack are:

  • Contact with a person suffering from the said condition (the primary reason why S. Aureus infection is most commonly seen in hospitals)
  • Chronic skin diseases that may lower immunity (acne, eczema)
  • Diabetes
  • Immunocompromised people such as HIV patients
  • Poor hygiene

On paper, staph aureus appears as a formidable bacteria, hard to combat. But what if we told you hydrogen peroxide is the kryptonite to staph aureus?

Hydrogen Peroxide’s Role in Bacterial Elimination

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most well-known disinfecting agents on the market. Many properties make hydrogen peroxide the kind of all disinfecting agents, most notable of which is its ability to kill strong and highly resistant bacteria and pathogens with ease while preserving skin integrity.

Hydrogen peroxide is indiscriminate in killing all types of bacteria and fungi (even viruses). What it means is that the brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide can kill off virtually all species of bacteria without any change in mixing and additive agents.

In addition to the above-mentioned feats, the amazing part is the non-toxic nature of hydrogen peroxide’s byproducts. This element is vastly similar to water but with added oxygen. Therefore, water and oxygen are produced whenever hydrogen peroxide breaks down.

More of the non-toxic nature of hydrogen peroxide’s byproducts and its role in usage over the skin is discussed in the sections below!

So what makes hydrogen peroxide accomplish this impressive feat?

Reactive Oxygen Species

Hydrogen peroxide comes under the group of special compounds called Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS for short. These compounds are known for their strong reactivity with the free radical of oxygen they liberate.

Hydrogen peroxide is a fragile chemical by nature. It is stored in special dark bottles, away from light and air because of how easily it can break down into its constituent elements (reactive oxygen and other forms of hydrates).

Whenever this chemical comes in contact with light or air, it quickly dissociates to liberate oxygen and water. This oxygen is the key agent that is responsible for the long list of procedures hydrogen peroxide can accomplish.

Similarly, whenever hydrogen peroxide is applied over a bacterial colony, oxygen released from hydrogen peroxide reacts with bacterial cells. This oxygen reacts with the bacterial cell wall, nucleus, and essential organelles for cellular activity.

And as oxygen is a universal agent, e.g., every living cell has it, it can react with all types of pathogens that affect the human body (yes even viruses!). With ROS, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent, universal disinfecting agent.

What Does Research Say

When it comes to bactericidal action, hydrogen peroxide is the talk of the town in research papers. Not only hydrogen peroxide has a profound antimicrobial action, but recent articles show its potential as a wound irrigating agent e.g. promotes healing of the skin after surgery.

As mentioned above, the key organism to cause an abscess is Staph aureus. Research says hydrogen peroxide has great potential in killing this species of bacteria.

The way hydrogen peroxide can perform its task is due to the same oxygen radicals. Scientists theorize how hydrogen peroxide can kill S. aureus by forming hydroxyl radical once it reacts with the iron bodies present inside this species of bacteria.

Another article shows how hydrogen peroxide can be used as an irrigating substance for post-surgery wounds. Contrary to popular belief that reactive oxygen species are harmful to skin cells, this article suggests how cells require some amount of hydrogen peroxide for average growth and proliferation.

The researchers show how hydrogen peroxide at low amounts resolves inflammation. Moreover,  it promotes immune response against chronic infections (as seen in acne conditions).

One important use of hydrogen peroxide in treating abscesses is explained by an Australian article. The researchers explain how hydrogen peroxide bubbles can identify the internal opening of the anal fistula and check anal abscesses.

Therefore, we can safely say that hydrogen peroxide is an effective and safe tool for treating abscesses. The next part is how to implement this information into real life.

How To Drain Abscesses Using Hydrogen Peroxide?

Now that we have gone over all the pointers you need to know for the best hydrogen peroxide results, we can move on to the part that can enable you to reach those results.

Generally, draining abscesses can be hectic and even complicated in a hospital setting with all the incisures and surgical procedures. But with hydrogen peroxide, you can accomplish this task without so much complexity.

What You Need

With hydrogen peroxide, the list of equipment is a short one. All you need for this procedure is:

How to Use

When it comes to the real process of draining an abscess, there are two things you must keep in mind.

Firstly, do not cut open the abscess yourself using a blade or similar unsterilized equipment. Secondly, make sure to check with your doctor before performing the procedure. The best case is to let an expert perform this to avoid any associated complications.

People at homes and untrained professionals may get intimidated or even nauseated at the sight of a boiling abscess. So it is best to contact an expert or a doctor to do this procedure.

Now with that out of the way, what you need to do is:

  • Take a syringe and make sure that it is not previously used and sterilized
  • Squeeze about 5 ml of hydrogen peroxide solution into the equipment
  • Next, take the syringe and apply it over an open abscess
  • If the abscess is not open, DO NOT try to cut it open, instead apply hydrogen peroxide over the surface
  • Once done, mild to moderate pain will be a sign of hydrogen peroxide’s action on the bacteria (the pain is caused by pain receptors covering your skin)
  • After about 2 minutes, take some water and dip a cotton swab into it
  • Gently apply it over the wound and make sure to sweep all of the hydrogen peroxides away
  • You can also splash some water over it and clean it off with a sterilized towel

And that’s about it!

Contraindications

Now that we know exactly the important steps involved in draining an abscess using hydrogen peroxide, we can discuss (God forbid!) what things can go wrong and how to prevent those.

The foremost advice is always to let a trained professional perform the procedure at home. Or, at the very least, seek medical advice like letting your doctor know before you go on about injecting hydrogen peroxide into your abscesses.

Though rare, hydrogen peroxide is known to cause gas embolism.  If it is injected directly into the bloodstream. The oxygen gas that hydrogen peroxide liberates coalesces into molecular form and forms a sort of giant bubble that can travel freely inside your bloodstream.

If the bubble is large enough it can block an artery and prevent blood from reaching the other site. This uncommon yet dangerous phenomenon is called a gas embolism.

While performing the procedure, another thing to keep in mind is to see the extent of the wound you are suffering from. Hydrogen peroxide is great for superficial wounds and those which like directly under the surface.

However, when it comes to deep wounds like a profound abscess infection, avoid using hydrogen peroxide and seek medical help immediately!

Preventing Abscess With Hydrogen Peroxide

Now that we have gone over what step you need to perform to drain an abscess from your skin thoroughly, we can move on to the prevention part.

Of course, prevention is always better than medications and treatment if you perform a few simple steps every day and develop a healthy habit of staying bacteria-free.

Hydrogen peroxide is almost as effective in preventing staph aureus infection as it is in treating them. Therefore, its dual ability makes it a must-have!

What You Need

The equipment needed for everyday cleaning using hydrogen peroxide is even more straightforward than the ones used in the treatment part.

The short-list of things you need for preventing abscesses using hydrogen peroxide is:

How to Use

Usually, the procedure is the most complex part of any treatment plan. However, with hydrogen peroxide, the steps become drastically easier. Using hydrogen peroxide for preventing skin abscesses is as simple as pouring water over your skin!

What you need to do is:

  • Take a regular-sized bowl and make sure it’s clean
  • Take one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and pour it into the bowl
  • Now, pour equal amounts of water into the bowl and mix them
  • This is the solution you need to clean yourself with to prevent typical bacterial infections and abscesses
  • Using a cotton swab, suck some of the solutions into the piece and apply it over the area you suspect for a bacterial growth
  • Some of the most common sites for cleaning are the underarms, groin area, neck, and back
  • You can even use this solution as a mouthwash to prevent tooth abscesses
  • After the solution is settled, wait a few minutes
  • Then using a water shower, wash it all off
  • You can repeat the procedure multiple times a day

And that’s all there is to it!

Contraindications

When it comes to risk factors, this part of the procedure is vastly safer than the one we performed to drain abscesses. As we are applying hydrogen peroxide solution directly over the skin, underlying sensitive tissues are preserved. This keeps the complications at a minimum.

However, there are certain instances where we do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide. One of which is if the solution is expired or too strong.

As mentioned in the previous sections, hydrogen peroxide is somewhat fragile and does not survive well in the open atmosphere. Therefore, make sure to make small batches of H2O2 solutions and use them all completely. Do not store the solution in batches and make a fresh one for every procedure.

Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the hydrogen peroxide solution has limited contact with your skin. Though mild, the chemical can have some corrosive properties if it is allowed to sit over the thin layer of skin for prolonged periods. So make sure to wash all of the solutions off once you are done with the procedure.

Other Disinfecting Agents v/s Hydrogen Peroxide

Now that we are done with the nitty-gritty part of the text, we can move on to address some issues people face while using hydrogen peroxide.

The foremost question people tend to ask is why hydrogen peroxide? And in the case of treating an infection caused by S. aureus, why should we use a milder agent compared to other disinfecting agents? And in response to that, we say, non-toxicity!

No doubt, disinfecting agents like bleach and ammonia are potent, and one can argue that they kill bacteria faster than hydrogen peroxide. Most hospitals use bleach solutions to eradicate S. aureus growths. But the thing with those disinfecting agents is that they liberate toxic byproducts whenever they react with a substance.

For instance, bleach is known to form chlorine gas which is not only corrosive but also toxic to breathe in. Similarly, ammonia releases ammonium salts which are very dangerous, especially to the human skin.

However, when it comes to hydrogen peroxide, the byproduct is water—this alone crowns hydrogen peroxide as the better agent to clean abscesses over the skin.

Most certainly, you will not use an agent that is toxic and harmful to the body. And although hydrogen peroxide has its associated risks like gas embolism, the instances are pretty rare and minuscule compared to the damage caused by other potent disinfecting agents!

Ideal Hydrogen Peroxide Concentration for Abscesses

Determining the safe concentration of hydrogen peroxide to use over the skin is the most critical part of all hydrogen peroxide-related procedures.

Unlike other disinfecting agents, the concentration that hydrogen peroxide comes in is not fixed and is available from a minute 0.5% to an astonishing 90%

But to make things simple, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide that you should be concerned about is the most commonly available, 3%.

At this concentration, hydrogen peroxide is free from added stabilizers that are actually toxic and mild enough to prevent any detrimental damage to the human body.

Some other concentrations of hydrogen peroxide which you can use are 0.5%, 1%, and 35%. However, make sure to alter their amount according to match that of 3%.

Safety Precautions You Must Take!

The final part of our discussion is some tips and tricks that you should keep in mind while performing hydrogen peroxide-related procedures. Although hydrogen peroxide is somewhat mild in nature, you should be careful around as it is a chemical nonetheless.

Especially when it comes to draining abscesses using hydrogen peroxide, these structures are susceptible to pain and external injury. Hence, it is best to be alert while draining an abscess using hydrogen peroxide.

As mentioned above, before draining an abscess, you should make sure to consult a doctor or seek medical advice.  This will help you to determine if the abscess is worth draining or is it deep enough that you should avoid it.

Let the professionals do the drainage part. Often, abscesses manifest as hideous scars and bubbles, which can be a pain to look at. Untrained professionals and even yourself can be intimated and mess up the crucial parts of the procedure.

Another vital aspect of draining abscesses is to supplement them with antibiotics. As abscesses are primarily caused by bacterial infections, using hydrogen peroxide for external cleaning and antibiotics for internal one can enhance the effects. And, of course, you need proper consultation for the relevant antibiotic.

The final piece of advice we can offer you is to limit the contact of hydrogen peroxide with your skin. This includes both, over your hands during the procedure and the affected skin during the treatment/prevention part.

Hydrogen peroxide, especially 3%, is mild and does not cause corrosion at normal time limits (15-20 minutes). However, if left for longer periods, they become corrosive and can lead to burns and skin irritations.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to bactericidal action, there is no subpar of hydrogen peroxide. Especially the bacteria infection that involves human skin and contact.

And what other infection to watch the fantastic effects of hydrogen peroxide on skin other than abscesses. These infections are the pinnacle of stubborn bacteria causing pustules and drainage under the skin.

As proved in the light of research, hydrogen peroxide can not only be used for cleaning these dangerous bacteria off of your skin but also promote healthy healing of your skin to some extent.

Moreover, with the use of hydrogen peroxide, the procedure becomes drastically easy and simple to follow. Add it with the perk of limited side effects, and we have got ourselves a hack against these nasty bacteria.

So with approaching flu season and bacteria at large, grab your set of hydrogen peroxide bottles today!

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