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Ask A. Schuyler, NP Your Own Question
A. Schuyler, NP
A. Schuyler, NP, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 16243
Experience:  Board Certified NP, MS, RN. 25 years private practice & hospitalist
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When is it time to have a boil lanced

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My 3 year old daughter has a "infected boil(staph)" on her lower back. She has been on the antibiotics for the 10 days and we have seen her Doctor a number of times. Sometimes the infection seems as thought it is getting better, but then when ever it gets wet (from the baths,etc) it forms a head (pus) but will not drain! After it dries, the pus like head goes away. And when you feel around the bump, it still feels pretty hard. So my question is: DOES THIS HAVE TO BE LANCED?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.


Since it isn't making progress with conservative measures, your doctor is probably going to have to incise and drain it. It's always best with children to try everything else first because it is an uncomfortable procedure even with lidocaine. I hope she feels better soon.

A. Schuyler, NP and 5 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
So your saying that the coming and going of the pus like head is telling me that it isn't making progress and most likely wont on it's own? I don't understand how the pus can come to the surface (and not drain) and then just dry up like that. I was told that the one thing I DON'T want this thing to do was to harden under the skin and that is what it seems like it is doing. So this is bad, right???

I'm saying that it is one stubborn boil! What you don't want is for the pus to harden so that a large incision has to be made to remove a "chunk" of tissue and leave a big old scar on a cute little girl's backside. Ideally, the warm compresses/baths would soften up the outer layer and it would come to a head and break open on its own spewing its contents out.

You mentioned that the area got "dry" again between baths. The procedure generally recommended is to pat the area dry after the hot compresses or baths, apply an antibacterial ointment (over-the-counter, your favorite brand), and a bandaid or non-stick gauze dressing if it is large. That way the area does not become dry, and it encourages the boil to come to a head. You will go through a lot of ointment and bandaids doing compresses several times a day, but it will keep the area soft and encourage draining.

If this method doesn't work in a week, I would want to go back to the doctor to review the situation and discuss the I & D procedure.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Ah Ha! Yes, see everything I have read states that you usually use a ointment along with an oral antibiotic. My daughters Doctor only prescribed the oral kind. And then I had also read about keeping it bandaged up. And this was all after the she was done (or nearly) the antibiotic, so I kinda felt like it was to late. The redness has improved, however the bump is still there and it still comes to a head when ever she is in the bath. So do you think that i should just continiue with the compressess and dressing with an oinment or should I start all over from the beginning with antibiotics also?
I would think because it is not "blazen red" anymore, it should be ok from infection. I just need to get the hardness softened up and out of there because it will not just go away on it's own.....right?????
Thank you so much for all your time. It is my daughters Birthday, and I don't want to have to put her through anything she doesn't have to. And her special Birthday party is tommorow too.
I would try a week of compresses, and keeping ointment and a dressing on it and see if that works. Like you, I hate to put her through a nasty needle and a scalpel if it isn't necessary. She could probably use a break from the antibiotics. Give her a happy birthday hug from me!
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Yes, I think that she needs a break from the antibiotics also! Right before she had this boil, she was on zethromax (?) for imflamed/infected tonsils! And then of course this. I'd say she needs a break. I know that they are 2 different kinds of medicines but it's just to much for a little one. I don't want them to have to cut her at all for this stupid thing, but sometimes ya read into these things to much and they tend to scare thehell out of you! Ya know what I mean:) Thanks again for all your wonderful advice.