A boil is a skin 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. If the infection spreads to the deeper tissues of the skin, then it becomes an abscess.
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 sty.
If several boils appear in a group, this is a more serious type of infection called a carbuncle.
Causes of Boils
Boils are usually caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus (staph). Most staph infections develop into abscesses and can become serious very quickly. This germ can be present on normal skin and enters the body through tiny breaks in the skin or by traveling down a hair to the follicle.
Certain health problems make people more susceptible to skin infections such as boils. Examples are
*problems with the immune system,
*poor hygiene, and
*exposure to harsh chemicals that irritate the skin.
Self-Care at Home
Home therapies should only be used on small boils. If your boil is bigger than a pea or has a lot of redness around it, seek medical attention rather than trying to deal with it yourself.
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 five to seven days of its appearance. You can make a warm compress by soaking a wash cloth 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. Apply a medicated ointment 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 usually results in making the infection worse.
Help prevent boils by following these guidelines:
Carefully wash clothes, bed linens, and towels of a family member who is infected with boils.
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