Let’s face it, boils are pretty gross. They are certainly not at all a sight for sore eyes, and they’re itchy and painful. Boils are more common than you might think, though, since infected hair follicles are a fairly common occurrence.
If you’ve developed a skin boil, you’re not alone, and there are things you can do to treat it! Read on as our team at AFC Urgent Care South Charlotte provides some helpful information.
- What a boil is: A boil is a common, painful infection of a hair follicle and the surrounding skin. It begins as a red lump, then fills with pus as white blood cells rush in to fight the infection.
- How it’s caused: Most boils are caused by staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), which many healthy people carry on their skin or in their noses without a problem. When a scrape, cut or splinter breaks the skin, the bacteria can enter a hair follicle and start an infection.
- They most commonly form: Anywhere on the body, but they’re most common on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, back and buttocks. Hairy, sweaty areas are typical sites, as well as areas of friction, such as the inner thighs. Boils can also develop around the ear or near the nose.
- Here’s what to do if you get one: First, don’t squeeze or try to drain a boil yourself. This can lead to a spread of the infection or possibly cause a secondary infection of the boil.
- What to do next: Make sure to keep the boil clean. Use antibacterial soap and warm water to wash the boil twice daily and gently pat the area dry. It’s a good idea to keep the towels and washcloths that come in contact with the boil separate from other towels.
- What to do after: Place a warm, wet washcloth on it throughout the day. Heat encourages the formation of pus and might help the boil break, drain and heal.
- Action steps to take: Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent boils from occurring, but things like washing your hands frequently, keeping wounds covered until they heal and avoiding sharing personal items with others are some of the best prevention tactics.
- Doctor’s recommendations: You can typically care for a single, small boil yourself. However, see your doctor if you have more than one boil at a time or if a boil occurs on your face, affects your vision, worsens rapidly or is extremely painful. Boils can cause scarring and even sepsis in more severe and rare cases.
We hope you’ve learned enough to properly treat your boil at home! If you need extra medical care, however, our AFC Urgent Care South Charlotte team is here for you now and always.