What are boils
Most boils will burst within a week of starting, but if the infection goes very deep it may take a couple of weeks before the boil finally comes to a head.
This process can be helped along by applying hot cloths or a poultice containing magnesium sulphate.
While you are waiting for a boil to burst it would be better if you try to rest the infected area and move it as little as possible. This will allow the body's natural defenses to work better and reduces the chances of the infection spreading below the skin.
Take paracetamol or aspirin to relieve the pain.
It is a waste of time applying antiseptic or creams to the affected area as the will not penetrate the skin and in consequence will not help cure the boil.
When the boil finally bursts, cover it with a clean dressing to prevent infection entering the wound.
Why do boils occur?
Boils tend to occur in the more hairy parts of the body and areas of friction like the armpits, back of the neck, and between the legs and buttock area.
They are caused by infection from bacteria particularly in people who are overtired, have a poor diet, diabetes mellitus or some sort of blood disorder.
The bacteria can create pockets of infection in the skin, often around a hair follicle. The hair follicle and surrounding skin cells are killed off by the bacteria and turn into pus which increases or comes to a head where it eventually bursts through the skin and escapes.
A collection of boils, forming in several hair follicles is called a carbuncle.
The pocket of pus may be extensive and will spread below the skin until two or more heads form and eventually burst.
Boils can be contagious and spread through a family so it is better to use your own towels and to sterilize any handkerchiefs or underwear in boiling water or disinfectant while the boil is still discharging.
It should be only necessary to see a doctor if:-
The boil is very painful If the inflammation around the boil spreads without coming to a head
If the boil does not discharge pus although a head has developed
If a person has many boils at the same time or a sequence of infections
A doctor may well cut into a boil to release any pressure and ease the pain.
Sometimes antibiotics are prescribed in order to prevent the spread of the infection.
Tests may be made in an attempt to discover any underlying disease that may be lowering the resistance to infection.
To avoid boils in future you should always try to eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest to help build up the body's natural resistance to infection.
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© Anthony George 2005 Boils Sponsor Love My Town