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Skin Abscesses May Heal on Their Own

Antibiotics may not be required to treat simple boils, study says

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children with simple skin abscesses may not require antibiotics, says a study in the February issue of Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

The study, by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, found that draining a skin or soft-tissue abscess (a pus-filled boil) and packing the wound with gauze offers sufficient treatment for simple skin abscesses.

Even though these simple skin abscesses may not require antibiotic treatment, the study says children with these abscesses still require medical attention. The abscesses can be caused by a skin scratch or prick.

The study included 69 children. Their average age was 5 1/2. All the children had their abscesses drained through incision.

"We were surprised. What we found is that if a physician adequately drains the abscess, it will most likely get better with or without effective antibiotics," study author Dr. R. Doug Hardy, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, says in a prepared statement.

More information

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology has more about boils.

SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, news release, Feb. 23, 2004
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