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Posted about 1 year ago
Vulvar Abscess and the Woman with Diabetes
Some of the sickest patients on our inpatient service in recent years have been women with vulvar abscesses who also had diabetes. We have so much concern about these women that we request that the Emergency Department have the gynecologic service see any woman with diabetes who presents with a vulvar abscess.
What is so much more concerning about this problem when it’s found in women with diabetes than in women without diabetes? Let’s review the facts.
What is the vulva and what is a vulvar abscess?
The best way to treat an abscess of the vulva is by cutting the abscess open and then allowing the pus to drain out. The abscess must be kept open until the infection is gone and the wound has healed. The healing of an abscess can be helped along by using a catheter to keep the incision open, or by filling up the abscess with special wound-packing gauze.
Although the most important part of treatment is to drain out the pus, antibiotics can also be given for a couple of weeks. It’s also useful to sit in a shallow bathtub of clean warm water at least 3 times daily, for about 20 minutes at a time. This will keep the wound clean and will also help to wash away the infection.
So what is the worry with diabetes?
By the same token, these infections can make it more difficult for persons with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Diabetes has been shown to be associated with longer recovery courses from infections. So even the smallest infection in someone with diabetes should be taken seriously and must be carefully monitored. In a woman with diabetes, a simple vulvar abscess can rapidly become a surgical emergency that is life threatening.