Staphylococcus aureus is the bacteria that cause boils. A boil is a skin infection wherein bacteria enter the oil gland or the hair follicle. The infected area turns red followed by the formation of a small lump. This lump in the skin is filled with a yellow substance called pus. This pus then attempts to exit the body, further inflaming the skin.
Boils are commonly located in the following areas of the body:
- Groin and buttocks area
A boil that forms on the eyelid is called a sty while a group of boils is known as a carbuncle.
People suffering from diabetes and those with immune system problems are prone to boils. Individuals with poor nutrition or poor hygiene can also make them susceptible to this type of skin problem.
When you have a boil, never attempt to prick or pop the boil! Germs from the boil can easily spread to healthy areas of your body. Do the following instead:
- Apply warm compress in the affected area by soaking a small towel or wash cloth in warm water. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water. Place the warm towel over the boil. The heat will draw the pus upwards towards the skin as well as relieve some of the pain. Do this several times a day until the boil comes to a head. This is the point where the boil will burst.
- Wash the area of the boil with antibacterial soap once it bursts, removing all the pus. Cover the area where the boil was with a bandage. You can apply an antibacterial ointment just to make sure.
- Make sure to keep on washing the site where the boil was at least three times a day until it fully heals. Continue to apply warm compress on the affected skin as well.
Remember: Make sure your hands are clean before and after you touch or handle the infected area. All the towels, cotton pads and bandages that you used should be thrown away properly. This is to ensure that the germs do not spread to other family members.
Go to your doctor when you experience any of these symptoms:
- Presence of fever
- Area around the boil becomes red or when red streaks develop
- Severe pain
- Boil doesn’t drain
- More boils form
At this point, the doctor may treat you with antibiotics, request for a blood test or request for a culture of the pus to find out what kind of bacteria is causing the boil. If your doctor lances the boil in order to drain the pus, make sure to clean the area of the boil at home. Follow the procedures above in caring for a boil.
Following these tips can prevent boils:
- Practice good hygiene
- Wash your hands well all the time
- If a family member is infected with a boil, make sure to wash his towel and bed linens well so the infection does not spread
- Eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water and take vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system
Boils are usually easy to care for because they are generally self-limiting. All you need to do is apply a warm compress and wash and clean the infected area once the boil bursts. For more serious infections, a visit to the doctor is in order. Boils, like other illnesses, can be prevented by practicing good nutrition, excellent personal hygiene, getting plenty of sleep and the right amount of exercise.