Scrofula is a tuberculous infection of the skin on the neck.
Scrofula in adults is most often caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In children, it is usually caused by Mycobacterium scrofulaceum or Mycobacterium avium.
Infection with mycobacteria is usually caused by breathing in air that is contaminated by these organisms.
Tests to diagnose scrofula include:
When infection is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, treatment usually involves 9 - 12 months of antibiotics. Several antibiotics need to be used at once. Common antibiotics for scrofula include:
When infection is caused by another type of bacteria (which often occurs in children), therapy usually involves antibiotics such as rifampin, ethambutol, and clarithromycin.
Surgery is not usually needed. It is only done when medicines do not work well.
With treatment, patients usually make a complete recovery.
Call your health care provider if your child has a swelling or group of swellings in the neck. Scrofula can occur in children who have not been exposed to someone with tuberculosis.
People who have been exposed to someone with tuberculosis of the lungs should have a PPD or Tine test.
Many occupations, such as nursing and medicine, require practitioners to get regular skin tests. People who immigrate to the United States from areas of the world where tuberculosis is common are also screened with such skin tests.