A skin abscess is a bacterial infection that forms a pocket of pus. A boil is a kind of skin abscess. The doctor may have cut an opening in the abscess so that the pus can drain out. Your child may have gauze in the cut so that the abscess will stay open and keep draining. Your child may need antibiotics. You will need to follow up with your doctor to make sure the infection has gone away.
The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Apply warm and dry compresses with a warm water bottle 3 or 4 times a day for pain. Keep a cloth between the warm water bottle and your child's skin.
- If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
- If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- Keep your child's bandage clean and dry. Change the bandage whenever it gets wet or dirty, or at least one time a day.
- If the abscess was packed with gauze:
- Keep follow-up appointments to have the gauze changed or removed. If the doctor instructed you to remove the gauze, follow the instructions you were given for how to remove it.
- After the gauze is removed, soak the area in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes 2 times a day, until the wound closes.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has signs of worsening infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the infected skin.
- Pus draining from the wound.
- A fever.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your child does not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
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