Boils can be very painful when they become infected, especially for children and teens. If your loved one suffers from a painful boil, you may be tempted to pop, squeeze, or bring it to a head. Skin conditions like boils can be dangerous if they pop beneath the skin. Boils can also create deep tunnels beneath the skin. Before you attempt to handle your child's boils yourself, learn why it's important to take your loved one to a pediatrician instead.
What's a Boil and Why Shouldn't You Pop It?
A boil, or furuncle, is a common disorder of the skin. Unlike pimples and blackheads, boils can be particularly painful if they show up on children. Boils usually look and feel like lumps beneath the skin. The lumps are initially very small in size but can grow larger when you pick, irritate, or attempt to bring them to a head.
Several things can cause boils to form on the skin, including the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The germs can enter your child's skin through abrasions, friction, cuts, and other soft tissue injuries. Some children develop boils if they have low immune systems, high blood sugar, or an iron deficiency problem.
It's never safe to pop the boil with a sewing needle or ripen it with excessive heat. These things can actually make boils worse by allowing bacteria to enter the circulatory system and skin. Boils can ripen, burst, and go away on their own. Some boils can ripen if you apply moist, warm towels to them several times a day. If your child's boil doesn't heal itself within two days or seems to get worse instead of better, take your loved one to a pediatrician.
How Can a Pediatrician Treat Your Child's Boil?
A pediatrician may ask you a few questions about your loved one's health, such as do they have diabetes, a low immune system, or another health condition. If your child does have a health issue that may possibly trigger boils, a pediatrician will make every effort to treat it.
A children's doctor may also check your loved one's blood to see if they have a bacterial infection. Staphylococcus aureus can live inside your child's body undetected. In order to treat a bacterial infection, your child may need to take antibiotics. However, not all doctors prescribe antibiotic treatments to their young patients, so be aware of this when you bring your loved one into the office for their appointment.
If you have additional questions about your child's boil, contact an emergency children's doctor or your local pediatric urgent care - Firefly After Hours is a pediatric clinic that can also offer more information.