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Boils: Brief Version

What is a boil?

A boil is a tender, red lump in the skin. It can be painful even when it is not being touched. Most of the time it is 1/2 to 1 inch wide. A boil is a hair root or skin pore that has been infected by bacteria called Staphylococcus (or staph).

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give your child antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. The boil will heal faster. It will also be less likely to return.
  • Keep your child clean. It is easy to get a boil again. Make sure your child showers and washes his hair every day with an antibacterial soap. This will help wash away staph bacteria on the skin.
  • Do not let other people use your child's towels or washcloths. The boils are easy to spread.
  • Do not squeeze a boil. You may spread boils to other parts of the body.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The boil is not better within 48 hours after starting the antibiotic.
  • The skin around the boil turns red or red streaks appear.
  • The boil has come to a head.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-03
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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