My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

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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 B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-03
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

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 health care professional.

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