boil treatments

Boils are infections of the skin that start in an oil gland or hair follicle. They are pus filled lumps that will be painful to the touch. They can develop virtually anywhere on the skin but the most common places are on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and shoulders (when they form on the eyelid they are called a sty). Many people mistakenly think that a carbuncle and a boil are the same thing, and they are, sort of. A carbuncle is a grouping of boils and an indication of a much more serious infection. Boil treatments can often be performed right in your own home.

Anyone can get boils, but since boils are caused by germs entering the skin through cuts and tears any chronic health issues that leads to poor skin can make someone more susceptible to getting boils.

These underlying health concerns are:

1. Diabetes.
2. Bad nutrition.
3. Bad hygiene.
4. Harsh chemical exposure over extended periods of time.
5. Immune system problems.

A boil will start off as a red, hard, painful lump which is generally quite small. Within a few days, the lump will grow and become softer but more painful. As the pus starts to form under the skin the boil will look less red and more white. If you have one isolated boil it’s generally not something to be concerned about, but if you have any of the following issues you should see your doctor right away since this could mean the infection is much more severe:

1. If the skin next to the boil also becomes red, warm, swollen, painful and streaks appear.

2. You form a group of boils (a carbuncle).

3. You get a fever.

4. The boil doesn’t drain.

5. If you have any underlying health issues you should talk to your doctor.

If your health is good and none of the more serious issues, as stated above, occur you can usually just deal with the boil yourself at home. One word of caution, many people will tell you to lance, or pop, the boil. While your doctor may do that in a sterile setting you should avoid doing that since you can actually cause another, possibly worse, infection.

Instead of lancing the boil at home use warm compresses to soften it up and bring the pus to the surface so the boil can burst on it’s own. This will usually take some time, applying the compresses several times throughout the day. Boils will usually take about 10 days to get to the point where they will burst but applying warm compresses can help alleviate some of the pain and speed up the process a little bit.

After the boil pops it’s very important that you keep the area clean to prevent another infection. Thoroughly wash the skin around the boil and apply an antibacterial ointment the area where the boil was, then cover with a bandage. Continue to take care with this area until new skin has formed and you no longer have an open sore to prevent re-infection.

If you have a ‘normal’ boil and not a carbuncle or other potentially serious health issues, boil treatments can often be done right at home. Just make sure to immediately seek out medical attention if you develop a fever or other signs that the infection is getting worse.

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