For some of us, the word “boil” is enough to make our skin crawl. It’s no secret that boils are extremely uncomfortable to deal with, but they’re actually more common than you might realize.
Our AFC Urgent Care Farragut team is here to provide some helpful information on skin boils and what you can do if you do end up developing one, so keep reading!
- 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 commonly caused: Most boils are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacterium commonly found on the skin and inside the nose. Boils sometimes develop at sites where the skin has been broken by a small injury or an insect bite, which gives the bacteria easy entry.
- 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 and 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.
If you’ve developed a boil, don’t wait to get the treatment you need! Visit our AFC Urgent Care Farragutteam today.