DESCRIPTIONBoils are painful, deep, bacterial infections of hair follicles. Boils are common and contagious. The skin and hair follicles are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications, which may also include incision and drainage of the boil.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSA domed nodule that is painful, tender, and red and has pus on the surface. Boils appear suddenly and ripen in 24 hours. They are usually 1-1/2cm to 3cm in diameter; some are larger.
Swelling of the closest lymph glands.
Infection, usually from staphylococcus bacteria, that begins in the hair follicle and bores into the skin's deeper layers.
RISK FACTORSPoor nutrition.
Illness that has lowered resistance.
Use of immunosuppressive drugs.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEKeep the child's skin clean.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of the pus to identify the germ.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSThe infection may enter the bloodstream and spread to other body parts.
Without treatment, a boil will heal in 10 to 20 days. With treatment, the boil should heal in less time, symptoms will be less severe, and new boils should not appear. The pus that drains when a boil opens spontaneously may contaminate nearby skin, causing new boils.
Relieve your child's pain with gentle heat from warm-water soaks (See Glossary), a heating pad, hot-water bottle, or lamp close to the skin. Use 3 or 4 times daily for 20 minutes.
Prevent the spread of boils by using clean towels only once, or using paper towels and discarding them.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe a penicillin drug, such as oxacillin,
dicloxacillin or nafcillin, or erythromycin antibiotics to fight infection.
Don't use non-prescription antibiotic creams or ointments on the boil's surface. They are ineffective.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child should decrease activity until the boil heals to avoid sweating.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has a boil.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Symptoms don't improve in 3 to 4 days, despite treatment.
-- New boils appear.
-- Fever rises above 100F (37.8C).
-- Other family members develop boils.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.