How to Treat Boils/Abscess on Infants

An infant with a boil on the upper arm

Babies have sensitive skins, and their immune system is still in the developing stages. This implies that they are more vulnerable to infections. To top this, if the weather conditions are unfavourable, babies may develop some outbreaks or rashes on their skins called boils.


In such a scenario, it is crucial to maintain proper hygiene and keep the baby’s skin cool to prevent the situation from worsening further. You may also like to consider changing the baby products you are using for your baby like the bathing soap, oil or lotion, and the talcum powder. The boils may become painful or serious, if not treated on time.


What are Boils?

A baby with a blister on the shoulder

A boil is a tender lump that appears on the skin because of some infection in an oil gland or hair follicle. The infection commonly occurs because of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria may be present on the skin and gets passed into the body through small cracks in the skin, or it may journey down from the hair to the follicle. This infection then grows into a boil.

In the beginning, the affected skin becomes red, and a lump appears. With time, the lump may turn white as pus starts to accumulate under the skin. The formation of pus can make the boil quite painful.
Boils erupt on the face, back, neck, shoulders, thighs, and buttocks. In some cases, babies may have fever also. Simple boils like a heat boil in babies may be cured by home remedies; but in case of any doubts, it is better to seek professional medical help.

Are Baby Boils Contagious?

Some of the boils like pus boils can be contagious. They may not only spread to other areas of the body, but also to people coming in close contact may be at risk of getting infected too. The infection may be transmissible even through sharing of towels, bedsheets or toothbrushes.

Pus boils occur due to an infection in the hair follicle by a form of bacteria called the staph bacteria. Pus boils begin as tiny sore lumps, but with time they grow bigger and get filled with pus. Multiple pus boils are called carbuncle.

A pus boil on baby can appear on any part of the baby’s body as hair follicles are present almost on our entire skin. However, they are more likely to appear on those parts which are susceptible to sweat and friction like the face, neck, armpits, thighs, and buttocks.This is why many mothers may have observed that pus boils usually occur more during the summer or rainy season.

How Long do Infant Boils Last?

A tender lump forms on the skin of the baby when a boil occurs. With time this grows bigger and redder. It starts filling with pus in about a week’s time of their appearance. If left to the body’s natural defence mechanisms, they may begin to subside within a couple of weeks. In case, the boils do not disappear or show any signs of subsiding even after two weeks; it is wise to seek medical assistance.

Causes of Boils in Babies

Certain medical conditions can also expose a baby to a greater risk of developing boils. They are:

  • Lack of good personal hygiene
  • Low immunity
  • Lack of necessary nutrients in the body
  • Anaemia or iron deficiency
  • Chemical exposure from use of harsh soaps, creams or detergents resulting in skin irritation
  • Unfavourable weather conditions like extreme heat or humidity

Signs and Symptoms of Boils in Infants

Some of the signs and symptoms of boils in infants are as follows:

  • The affected skin around the boil tends to become swollen and red
  • Baby can develop fever in some cases
  • Multiple boils may form near the spot where the first boil appeared
  • The lymph glands around the boil may swell up


The doctor may conduct a thorough physical examination of the baby’s body to establish whether the infection has spread to other areas of the body or not. The doctor may also test a wad of the boil to rule out any other underlying medical reasons for the appearance of boils. After analysing all the factors, the doctor will present his diagnosis.


Normally infant boils are not known to lead to any complications or require medical intervention. But if a boil is squeezed or pierced open, some scarring can take place. If the boil grows very big, it may form cellulite. This may necessitate treatment with antibiotics. In case the boil turns into carbuncle and shows no signs of fading away, surgery may be suggested by the doctor. You may like to take extra care while dealing with pus boils as they are contagious.

Recurrent Boils on Babies

Occasionally babies are troubled by recurrent boils. This may not be a cause for concern unless you notice a repeated pattern in relation to other infections in your baby.
Recurrent boils may be contagious as the bacteria living on the skin is transferred from one body to the other quite easily. Therefore, it is essential to find out if any family member is suffering from boils and may be spreading the infection to the baby.


It is essential to regularly clean the affected area properly with a suitable antiseptic wash to prevent the infection from spreading. In case the boil bursts, wipe the area clean with some cotton and antiseptic wash. On drying, cover it with gauze or dressing to prevent the baby from touching it. Resist the temptation to squeeze or pierce the boil as this may result in scarring and spreading of infection to the nearby areas.

If the boils seem to be growing bigger or spreading, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Bear in mind to complete the whole course even if the boils fade away lest there is a relapse. You can also apply an anti-infective cream on the boils after consulting the doctor. In some cases, the doctor may suggest surgically opening the boil and draining the pus out. This procedure may be done under the influence of anaesthesia.

Boils on the baby’s head can be treated by rubbing alcohol on the area. This will disinfect the area and can heal the boils which may have developed because of a simple infection. In case of multiple boils on the head, the probable cause usually is heat and the weather. In such a scenario, applying coconut oil can prove very useful as it has cooling properties.

Home Remedies to Cure Boils

In most cases, boils heal on their own in a few days’ time. Nevertheless, you can also try the following home remedies to hasten the healing course:

1. Warm compress

For instant relief from pain, a warm compress can be placed on the affected area and the boil for a few minutes. This action can be repeated a few times during the day. This may also help the pus to ooze out of the boil after which the healing can begin.

2. Honey therapy

Applying honey to the boil can be a good idea as honey is a natural antiseptic.

3. Porridge compress

You can also try the porridge treatment. Make a warm compress of porridge by wrapping porridge in a clean cotton cloth and then dipping it in hot milk. Porridge efficiently reduces inflammation thereby quickening the healing process.

4. Parsley leaves

You can also use a compress of parsley leaves. Parsley leaves may be boiled till they turn soft and after draining the extra water, a compress can be prepared. Applying this compress to the boil can help heal the boil sooner.

5. Turmeric

Putting turmeric powder on the boils can also prove useful in treating them due to its antiseptic properties.

6. A mix of onion and garlic juice

If a boil ruptures, you can put a concoction of onion and garlic juice on it. This may destroy not only the bacteria but also accelerate the healing.

Preventing Baby Boils

Certain things may be practised to avoid boils on the baby. Some of them can be

  • Maintain proper hygiene for the baby
  • Make sure your baby is having healthy and balanced meals.
  • Wash hands repeatedly while handling the baby.
  • Regularly change baby’s towels, bed sheets and wash clothes and wash them with hot water.
  • To prevent boils from spreading further, keep the dressing it and change it from time to time. Bear in mind to dispose of it carefully.
  • In case pus boil bursts, clean it properly and ensure that the pus doesn’t come in contact with other areas of the baby’s body.
  • Keep a lookout for any signs of new boils appearing on the baby’s body.

When should you consult a Doctor?

You may like to consult the doctor if:

  • The baby develops a fever.
  • The boils start growing in size and become painful.
  • The boils show no signs of fading away even after two weeks.
  • The boils are recurring and spreading to other areas of the body.
  • Baby’s lymph nodes swell up.
  • Boils get filled with pus.

The appearance of boils on babies usually is not a very worrisome situation. Body’s natural defence system usually takes care of it. But in case you feel that the boils are not subsiding and are spreading to other parts of the body and maybe an indication of some other underlying medical condition, it is always advisable to seek medical treatment.