Chances are, your child has an inguinal hernia. This condition, more common in boys, is present in five out of every 100 children.
An inguinal hernia occurs when there is a defect in the muscle or tissue of the lower abdominal wall, allowing the bowel to push through. Usually, your child will be sent to a surgeon, who will schedule surgery to repair the hole in the near future.
Most hernias are not painful and are incidentally noticed by a parent when the infant strains or cries. The hernia may also be noticed by the pediatrician during a routine exam.
Occasionally, the intestine will become trapped in the hole of the abdominal wall, causing a red, painful bulge that cannot be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. This incarcerated hernia is a medical emergency and needs immediate attention.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, January 2020