A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. It starts as a hard, red, painful lump usually about half an inch in size. Over the next few days, the lump becomes softer, larger and more painful. Soon a pocket of pus forms on the top of the boil.
Most boils are caused by a germ (staphylococcal bacteria). This germ enters the body through tiny scratch or cuts in the skin or can travel down the hair to the follicle. 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”.
- Using a damp napkin soaked in warm water, warm up the boil. 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.
- When the boil starts draining, wash it with an antibacterial soap until all the pus is gone and disinfect with methylated spirit.
- Continue to clean the infected area two to three times a day until the wound heals. If there are concerns about the seriousness of the infection, you are advised to seek medical attention.
Boils can be prevented by good practice of personal hygiene as well as proper treatment of minor skin wounds.