Boils A boil is a red,
swollen, painful bump under the skin, similar to an overgrown pimple.
Boils are often caused by an infected hair follicle. Bacteria from the
infection form an abscess or pocket of pus. The boil can become as large
as a ping-pong ball and may be extremely painful. Boils occur most often
in areas where there is hair and chafing. The face, neck, armpits,
breasts, groin, and buttocks are common sites.
Prevention Wash boil-prone
areas often with soapy water. An antibacterial soap may help. Dry
Avoid clothing that is too tight.
Do not squeeze, scratch, drain, or lance a boil. Squeezing can push the
infection deeper into the skin. Scratching can spread bacteria, which
can cause new boils to form.
Wash yourself gently with antibacterial soap (Dial, Safeguard) to
prevent boils from spreading. Use moist heat often. Try applying
hot, wet washcloths to the boil for 20 to 30 minutes, three to four
times a day. Do this as soon as you notice a boil. The heat and moisture
can help bring the boil to the surface, but
it may take five to seven days. A hot water bottle applied over a damp
towel also may help. Continue using warm compresses for three days
after the boil opens. Apply a bandage to keep draining material from
spreading, and change the bandage daily.
When to Call a
Health Professional If needed, your
doctor can drain a boil and treat the infection.
Wetting If a boil is on
your face, near your spine, or in the anal area.
If signs of worsening infection develop:
1. Increased pain, swelling, redness, or tenderness
2. Red streaks extending from the boil
3. Continued discharge of pus
4. Fever of 1000 or higher with no other cause
5. If any other lumps, particularly painful ones develop near the
6. If pain limits your normal activities or interrupts your
7. If you have diabetes.
8. If the boil is as large as a ping-pong ball.
9. If the boil has not improved after five to seven days of home
10.If many boils develop and persist.