A skin abscess or boil happens when there is a build-up of pus caused by an infection in the skin. The pus is formed as the body’s automatic reaction to fighting the infection. Commonly, an abscess or boil is found on a child’s face, throat, armpits, groin, and buttocks, but can develop anywhere.

When an abscess or boil is first formed, you might just notice a small, tender, inflamed lump, and over the next few days, it will get larger and more painful for your child. After several days (around day 5), the abscess/boil will come to a head and most likely burst naturally. It’s important to note that children with healthy immune systems rarely get an abscess or boil, but children with type-1 diabetes, type-2 diabetes, and children that are overweight are at higher risk.


Most abscesses/boils will release and drain naturally requiring no treatment by a nurse or doctor. Normal treatment of a child’s small abscess or boil at home consists of keeping it clean with gentle antibacterial baths, covering it with clean and absorbent dressings every day, and ensuring your child gets plenty of rest. You can also give your child a safe and recommended dosage of ibuprofen to help them feel comfortable until the abscess drains.

However, in the case that the abscess does not burst naturally within 5 days, is painful, and grows quickly, they have a fever, and/or keep getting abscesses in the same place, you need to go see a physician. Severe abscess treatment involves a general physician using sterile tools to lance it with sterile equipment and allow the pus to drain out. You should never try lancing your child’s abscess yourself at home. Sometimes children will also be prescribed antibiotics to fight off the infection too.