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Antibiotics may not be necessary when treating children with a simple skin abscess

DALLAS Feb. 24, 2004 Physicians may not need to prescribe antibiotics when treating a common skin infection in children, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The findings, which appear in the February issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, show draining a skin or soft-tissue abscess a pus-filled boil and packing the wound with gauze is adequate therapy for simple skin abscesses. Patients still need to seek medical attention for these boils even though they may not need antibiotics.

This traditional treatment is even effective when the antibiotic-resistant, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes the abscess. Children can get these boils from a scratch or prick, even when there are no known signs of a preceding trauma.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often thought to be more virulent than their ancestors, said Dr. R. Doug Hardy, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and the study's senior author. Many physicians now have questions regarding how aggressively to treat these antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

"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," Dr. Hardy said.

At the beginning of the study, researchers were simply looking for alternative drugs and treatments for the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Abscesses caused by these bacteria have become extremely common in children.

"I think it's good news for physicians. It addresses the dilemma of how to treat these kids," said Dr. Michael C. Lee, assistant professor of pediatrics and co-lead author of the study. "We needed a plan, and we needed to know how to deal with it better on a day-to-day basis."

The study is among the first to look at managing an infection caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, researchers said. Previous research has focused ma
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Contact: Staishy Bostick Siem
staishy.siem@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
23-Feb-2004


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