A infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. At first, the skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops. After four to seven days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin.
- The most common places for boils to appear are on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. When one forms on the eyelid, it is called a carbuncle.
Causes of Boils
Most boils are caused by a germ (staphylococcal bacteria). This germ enters the body through tiny nicks or cuts in the skin or can travel down the to the follicle.
These health problems make people more susceptible to skin infections:
- Problems with the immune system
- Poor heart murmur, diabetes, any problem with your immune system, or use immune suppressing drugs (for example, corticosteroids or along with the infection, a trip to a hospital’s emergency room is needed.
Exams and Tests
Your doctor can make the diagnosis with a physical exam. Many parts of the body may be affected by this skin infection, so some of the questions or exams may be about other parts of your body.
Boils Treatment — Home Remedies
- Apply warm compresses and soak the boil in warm water. This will decrease the pain and help draw the pus to the surface. Once the boil comes to a head, it will burst with repeated soakings. This usually occurs within 10 days of its appearance. You can make a warm compress by soaking a washcloth in warm water and squeezing out the excess moisture.
- When the boil starts draining, wash it with an antibacterial soap until all the pus is gone and clean with rubbing alcohol. Apply a medicated ointment (topical antibiotic) and a bandage. Continue to wash the infected area two to three times a day and to use warm compresses until the wound heals.
- Do not pop the boil with a needle. This could make the infection worse.
Medical Treatment for Boils
If there are concerns about the seriousness of the infection, additional tests will be performed. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe. If the boil is drained, a culture may be done to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection and to assess if an appropriate antibiotic was given.
Next Steps — Follow-up
Whether the boil is drained at home or is lanced by a doctor, you will need to clean the infected area two to three times a day until the wound is healed. Apply an antibiotic ointment after washing and cover with a bandage. If the area turns red or looks as if it is getting infected again, contact your doctor.
Help prevent boils by following these guidelines:
- Carefully wash clothes, bedding, and towels of a family member who is infected with boils.
- Clean and treat minor skin wounds.
- Practice good personal hygiene.
- Stay as healthy as possible.
Most boils will disappear with simple home treatment.