What Causes Boils on Toddlers?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

My 2 year old has had boils on her body now for over a year. They first appeared on her bottom, one or two at a time. My pediatrician prescribed an antibiotic, and it went away. A few months later, they would appear again, and we'd give her more antibiotics. Now Amber (my two-year-old) is potty trained. I have not noticed them on her bottom for approx 6 months.

Last week four appeared on her legs and thre on her arms. I am getting extremely frustrated and worried that something serious may be wrong with her. My pediatrician says there is nothing to worry about, children get them all of the time. It's a staph infection and comes from bacteria.

My questions are: Should I take her to a dermatologist? Should I have tests run to make sure she doesn't have some type of disease causing this? Should I get another opinion? I am keeping her clean (probably too clean). She gets a bath every night and I wash her hands several times a day.

I am so concerned over this. She has been on an antibiotics again now for approximately three days. The boils are healing again, only to come back again a few months from now I am sure. Please give me some insight and direction for this; any information will be greatly appreciated!

Doctor's response

While children do get boils the frequency and repetitive pattern you describe would indicate that a few basic blood tests to evaluate her body's immune system would be reasonable. In addition, many people are carriers of the staph bacteria in their nose and on their skin (about 30%) and often skin staph infection will follow a major viral illness (a common situation for children of this age range.) Most of the time, it is merely a variant of normal, but at this stage a basic workup would be worthwhile. A dermatologist is a skin specialist that could assist her pediatrician if there is any question as to the diagnosis and/or treatment.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018