Clinical question: Does antibiotic administration after incision and drainage of simple abscesses improve cure rates?
Background: Abscesses are the most common skin and soft-tissue infection, and most patients seek outpatient treatment. Limited data have shown that antibiotic treatment directed at Staphylococcus aureus after incision and drainage is effective, though the efficacy of adjunctive antibiotic therapy versus incision and drainage alone is unclear.
Setting: Multicenter outpatient facilities across the United States.
Synopsis: After successful incision and drainage of a simple abscess, 786 outpatients (505 adults, 281 children) were randomized to receive either clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), or placebo for 10 days. The rate of clinical cure was 83.1% in the clindamycin group, 81.7% in the TMP-SMX group, and 68.9% in the placebo group. The cure rate was significantly lower in the placebo group, compared with either of the antibiotic groups. The difference in cure rate was not significant between the clindamycin and TMP-SMX groups. Cure rates in culture-positive S. aureus patients were significantly higher in both antibiotic groups, compared with placebo. Rates of adverse events were higher in the clindamycin group (21.9%) than the TMP-SMX group (11.1%) or the placebo group (12.5%), though all adverse events resolved without sequelae.
Bottom line: Antibiotic therapy after incision and drainage for simple abscesses is associated with improved cure rate and decreased recurrence.
Citation: Daum RS, Miller LG, Immergluck L, et al. A placebo-controlled trial of antibiotics for smaller skin abscesses. N Engl J Med. 2017 Jun 29;376(26):2545-55.
Dr. Chung is hospitalist and assistant professor of medicine, Icahn School of Medicine of the Mount Sinai Health System.