What happens if a Bartholin abscess bursts?

If a Bartholin abscess bursts, it may resolve on its own in a few days without treatment. However, it is advisable to visit the doctor to avoid the spread of the infection. Your doctor will usually advise you to soak the labia in warm water (sitz bath) and prescribe you antibiotics and pain medications.

What is a Bartholin abscess?

Bartholin abscess is a pocket of pus that builds up over the Bartholin glands in females. The Bartholin glands are two pea-sized glands, each located on each side of the vaginal lips (labia) near the vaginal opening. These glands secrete slimy fluid, known as mucus, which helps lubricate the vaginal region.

The blockage of mucus can result in an abscess known as Bartholin abscess. The abscess can be infected or not infected. The infection is caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. These are the microbes that are usually responsible for infections of the skin and urinary tract.

What causes Bartholin abscess?

Bartholin abscess is a common problem in women. It affects nearly three out of every 100 women. It can happen in any woman and its cause may be unknown. Some may be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydial infection or gonorrhea.

What are the signs and symptoms of Bartholin abscess?

A Bartholin cyst (fluid-filled swelling) can turn into an abscess or an abscess can develop on its own. The abscess grows very quickly, typically over 2 to 4 days.

If you have a Bartholin abscess, you can feel a tiny bump near your vagina. However, it can grow as large as a hen’s egg (until 8 cm) and cause extreme discomfort.

Bartholin abscess is usually

  • Red in color
  • Swollen
  • Feels warm onto the touch
  • Is painful (tender) to the touch

A large, severely infected Bartholin abscess can

  • Hurt when you walk, sit or indulge in sport activities
  • Make sexual intercourse painful for you
  • Cause fever

How is Bartholin abscess diagnosed?

Bartholin abscess is a relatively easy diagnosis because doctors can diagnose it just by looking at it and asking about your complaints and medical history.

Sometimes, the doctors may take a sample of the abscess and send it to the laboratory to get it examined under a microscope. This is done if they want to know what kind of microbes have caused the abscess so that they can start the right antibiotic course. In women older than 40, a biopsy (cutting a small piece of the labia or vagina) may be done to check whether the abscess is due to cancer of the Bartholin gland.

What is the treatment for Bartholin abscess?

Treatments for a Bartholin abscess aim to drain the pus completely. To achieve this aim, doctors usually use one of two techniques. These minor surgical procedures can be performed right away during a visit to the doctor’s office.

  • Insertion of a word catheter: The doctor gives an injection of an anesthetic medication near the Bartholin abscess located over the labia. This numbs the region around the abscess. Next, the doctor makes a small cut (incision) into and inserts a tiny tube known as a word catheter into the abscess. The tube is left there for 4 to 6 weeks and is usually removed during the next visit.
  • Marsupialization: This procedure involves making a small incision into the abscess and stitching its corners so that an opening is created. The opening allows the abscess to drain for a few days.

Your doctor may put you on antibiotics before calling you for any of the procedures. If the abscess does not drain adequately, antibiotics may be continued after the procedure. To reduce the pain, your doctor may give you analgesics.

You may have to restrict sex for a few weeks until the abscess drains completely. Your doctor may advise you to take a sitz bath, sitting in a tub of warm water for 10 to 20 minutes four to five times a day for a few days.

If the Bartholin abscess keeps recurring, the doctor may recommend going for either laser treatment or surgery to remove the entire Bartholin gland.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/29/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference