Boils In Children

Boils In Children

A boil is a tender red lump on the skin.  which is caused by an infection of the hair root or sweat pore. Boils are not usually a serious problem. There is a small chance of your child becoming sicker if the infection spreads - if this happens you should take your child to your family doctor.


Thumbnail of Boils printout.

Key points to remember about boils

  • a boil starts as a red lump or pimple with red skin around it
  • a boil can have white or yellow pus in the centre
  • it might be itchy or a bit painful
  • a boil usually starts around a hair follicle (where a hair grows out of the skin)

What can I do about my child's boil?

  • go to the doctor immediately if a boil is near the eye
  • check and clean boils every day
  • soak the boil in a warm bath or put a facecloth soaked in warm water on the boil for several minutes
  • if the boil bursts, wipe away pus, fluid or blood with clean cotton wool or a cloth soaked in water and antiseptic and cover with a plaster
  • wash cloths and towels after each use
  • make sure your child wears clean clothes every day
  • wash your hands with soap and dry thoroughly before and after touching the boil
  • check the rest of the family for boils

Go to the doctor immediately if a boil is near the eye.

What should I do if my child's boil gets worse?

A large, deep boil is called an abscess ('ab-ses').

Go to the doctor immediately if the boil is near the eye.

Check out how to stop skin infections

Go to the doctor if any of these things happen:

  • the boil is bigger than a 10 cent coin
  • the boil lasts longer than a week
  • the boil is very painful
  • redness is spreading on the skin around the boil 
  • there are a lot of boils or your child has boils regularly
  • your child seems unwell or has a fever

A doctor might:

  • drain the pus from a boil
  • give your child antibiotics 

It is important to take the antibiotics each day until they are finished, even if the boil has got better. The antibiotics need to keep killing the infection in the body after the skin has healed.

How are boils spread?

Check out more detailed information about boils

Boils are spread by fluid, blood or pus from a boil touching other skin.

Should I keep my child home from kura or school if they have a boil?

If your child is feeling well they can go to kura or school but keep boils covered with plasters or dressings.

This page last reviewed 19 October 2020.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it