BOIL AND TROUBLE
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.