Abscesses or cellulitis are bacterial infections of the skin. These conditions usually require medical treatment and are sometimes serious. Bacteria may enter through any break in the skin, such as a cut, scrape, hang nail, or insect bite. An abscess is a pocket of pus under the skin. It is red, warm, painful, and usually firm. Sometimes an abscess is mushy, and you can feel liquid move under the skin. Cellulitis is infection of the skin tissue itself. Skin is warm, pink or red, and tender. It looks like sunburn surrounding a small scrape. 


  • Soak the infected area in warm, soapy water. Warmth draws out      infection. You may do “bleach baths” to decrease bacteria of open wounds.      Add 1/3 cup laundry bleach to a bathtub of water and soak for at least 5      minutes (or as long as your child wishes).
  • With a pen mark the perimeter of the redness. These marks help      determine whether a lesion is getting worse and how quickly it is      worsening.
  • If an abscess pops on its own, keep the area clean. If it heals on its own, no further treatment is needed.


Call during office hours if:

  • Your child has a small lesion <1 inch
  • If symptoms persist despite soaking
  • For other concerns

Call immediately if:

  • Your child has a large (1 inch) abscess or a rapidly enlarging abscess
  • Your child has a fever or is acting more sick
  • The redness is expanding quickly or you see red streaks moving up from the sore towards the heart.
    These lesions typically require antibiotics and abscesses sometimes need to be drained

Call or Visit

  • phone: (616) 243-9515

  • FAX: (616) 243-1815

  • after hours: (616) 776-7401

  • or contact us via the Patient Portal

  • Alger Pediatrics
    733 Alger St. SE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49507