Lymphadenopathy

If your child has any of the following:

  • Is pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is going blue around the lips or has pauses in their breathing (apnoeas) or has an irregular breathing pattern
  • Has a fit/seizure
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Develops a rash that does no disappear with pressure (see the 'Glass Test')

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • Continues to have a fever above 38.0°C for more than 5 days
  • Develops pain and redness of the lymph node
  • Lymph nodes increasing in size - bigger than a 10 pence coin
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Losing weight

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

If your child:

  • Continues to have enlarged lymph nodes that are slowly improving but he/she is otherwise healthy
  • Small lymph nodes may persist for years

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111

How can I help my child?

  • Use painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol to keep your child comfortable - please read and follow the instructions on the medicine container.

Why does your child have enlarged lymph nodes?

  • It is normal for lymph nodes in your child's neck to be enlarged when they have an infection such as a sore throat. This is your child's normal response to fighting common infections. Antibiotics are not normally required.
  • Children with severe eczema often have enlarged lymph nodes. This will improve with treatment of your child's eczema.

What should you look out for?

  • Occasionally, enlarged lymph nodes can become infected. If the lymph node is painful, red and hot, your child will need to see a healthcare professional because they may need treatment with antibiotics.
  • If your child has been prescribed antibiotics for an infection of their lymph nodes and still has a fever after 2 days, they will need to be seen again.

How long will it take for my child to get better?


  • Your child should start getting better within a couple of days but their lymph nodes may take 2-4 weeks to improve. Small lymph nodes may persist for years.

LEFT: Painless enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of the neck (bilateral) associated with a sore throat - likely to improve without treatment.

RIGHT: Painful, hot swelling on left side of neck caused by an infected lymph node - requires treatment with antibiotics

This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

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