Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Real Advice -

Q My son re­cently de­vel­oped what looked like a huge pim­ple on his cheek. It was a hard lump, painful and came to a head. It’s gone now, but I think he’s get­ting an­other one on his face, and I sus­pect it’s a boil. Is there any­thing I can do about this?

A Pae­di­a­tri­cian Dr Scott Dun­lop says: The term ‘boil’ is of­ten used to de­scribe skin in­fec­tions in chil­dren. In med­i­cal terms we re­fer to ‘skin ab­scesses’, ‘fu­run­cles’ and ‘car­bun­cles’, de­pend­ing on which layer of the skin is in­volved.

The pre­sen­ta­tion is gen­er­ally the same – a painful, ten­der, red lump in the skin. Most boils need no spe­cific treat­ment. As pus builds up within the skin, the boil “points” (comes to a head), with dis­charge of the un­der­ly­ing pus. Warm com­presses can as­sist this process. Fur­ther treat­ment is of­ten not re­quired, but an­tibi­otics are some­times nec­es­sary.

In the great ma­jor­ity of cases, boils oc­cur in oth­er­wise healthy chil­dren in whom the skin bar­rier has been bro­ken by a scratch or bite, al­low­ing nor­mal sur­face skin bugs to pen­e­trate the un­der­ly­ing skin lay­ers. Re­cur­rent boils may be an indi­ca­tor of a sup­pressed im­mune sys­tem and should be re­viewed by your GP or pae­di­a­tri­cian.

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