• The Different Types of “Bukol”

    A simple bump on the head could be a simple swelling or a symptom of something more serious. Read on to find out the different kinds of bukol and red flags to watch out for.
    by Ina Atutubo, MD .
  • kid bumpA bukol, or tumor, simply means swelling. In the olden times, when Latin was still the language used in medicine, tumor was one of the four classical signs of inflammation: calor (heat), dolor (pain), rubor (redness) and tumor (swelling). In modern times, it has come to be a general term for any growth on any part of the body that forms a solid mass. In our native tongue, a bukol is anything on the skin or inside the body that forms a solid mass of any size, which may or may not cause symptoms. The definition is both vague and variable, depending on the usage.


    Bukol – Swelling
    For example, bukol as a swelling on the head after a mild injury or “untog” consists mostly of edematous fluid which collects under the scalp. It is usually accompanied by pain, redness and warmth, the classic signs of inflammation. A simple remedy is applying an ice pack on top of the bukol to reduce the pain and swelling. This is different from a “manas” though, which is also a collection of edematous fluid, but in the soft tissue parts of the body like the foot, or even around the eyes.

    Important! After any head injury, please watch out for these red flags in your child: loss of consciousness, grogginess, and vomiting.  If you notice any of these, please bring your child to the nearest emergency room immediately for evaluation.


    Bukol – Kulani (swelling of lymph nodes)
    Another use of the word bukol is when there are palpable small nodules, usually under the neck or in the armpits or groin area (singit). These nodules are your lymph nodes, and may be felt using the fingertips. When the swelling is accompanied by pain, or fever, it usually indicates an infection of the lymph nodes. Sometimes dental carries (cavities) may also cause a bukol in the neck area, and so can “primary infection,” a common infection that is actually tuberculosis in the young child.  

    A bukol in the neck area, or a kulani, is usually discovered by your doctor, and the diagnosis is made if the kulani is accompanied by cough, low to moderate grade fever in the afternoons, night sweats, poor appetite, weight loss, an x-ray finding compatible with tuberculosis and/or a positive PPD skin test. You may ask your pediatrician for advice on primary infection if you suspect your young one to have a bukol on the neck area.

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