Home > Seeking Help > What are Boils and How Can I Treat Them?

What are Boils and How Can I Treat Them?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Boils Bumps Skin Infection Symptoms

Boils, also known as skin abscesses and furuncles, are caused by infections of a hair follicle and surrounding tissues. These infections cause a swelling as pus and dead tissue create a hot, red bump on the skin’s surface that can be embarrassing for the person experiencing them. Sometimes these abscesses are clustered together and actually connected beneath the skin, which is then known as a carbuncle. Becoming familiar with the symptoms of boils should help you spot and treat them quickly. Unfortunately some boils do lead to complications, but there are ways to avoid recurrent boils and minimise these risks.

Symptoms of Boils

Boils can vary in size from looking like a large spot to being as large as a golf ball. They can appear anywhere on the body, though they are particularly common on the face, neck, breasts or buttocks. They are also common amongst people who are diabetic, have a compromised immune system, are elderly or are obese. Common symptoms of boils include:
  • A bump on the skin, often that looks lumpy or has irregular borders.
  • Pain associated with the bump.
  • Heat associated with the bump.
  • Redness or even a purple tone associated with the area of the bump.
  • A yellow or white centre of the bump indicative of pus inside.
  • Associated fever.
  • Associated fatigue.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Red streaks radiating from the bump, indicating spreading infection.

Treating Boils

The best treatment for boils depends on their size, location, the number of boils present and your history with this type of skin problem. No matter what, though, all boils must drain in order to heal. Common treatment options include:
  • Covering with warm, wet cloth to promote natural drainage.
  • Using antibiotic or antiseptic creams to treat the area.
  • Applying tea tree oil to the area as a natural antiseptic.
  • Covering any open wounds with dry, sterile gauze or plasters.
  • Lancing or forced draining of the abscess by a medical professional.
  • Use of antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.
  • Washing all areas with antibacterial soap during antibiotic treatment.

Complications Associated With Boils

While many boils are simply a contained infection of a hair follicle, others can create health complications if they are left untreated. Scarring and keloid scarring are possible if boils open on their own and are not kept clean. The infection associated with the boil can also spread into the blood stream. Blood poisoning can result from an untreated boil, and this can even progress into shock which can be fatal. The bacteria associated with boils is also happy to find new homes in almost any organ system, which means that no part of the body is safe if an infection spreads out of control.

Avoiding Recurrent Boils

Some people are prone to recurrent boils, which can be unsightly and embarrassing. The best way to avoid this is to treat boils as they arise, to take a full course of antibiotics if prescribed and to wash all over the body with approved soaps in order to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene. When boils do occur, keeping the areas clean and avoiding squeezing, picking or otherwise forcing the abscesses open is best to contain the infections. Eating a balanced diet, staying at a healthy weight, managing any underlying health conditions and frequently washing hands with antibacterial soap or gels will also help avoid recurrent boils as well.

Boils are ugly to look at and embarrassing to suffer. Recognising the symptoms of boils, how to treat them, what complications could result from them and how to avoid a recurrence are all important for people who suffer from these kinds of infections.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • EmbarrassingIssues
    Re: Adult Bed Wetting
    Danielle92 - Your Question:I recently mustered the courage to tell my mother I wear nappies to bed due to my bed wetting the last few weeks. She…
    18 August 2017
  • Lebza
    Re: Bleeding During Intercourse
    Im bleeding during intercourse n m too ashamed cs it always happens to me,i went to see a doctor n she gave me painamol n Betagesic…
    17 August 2017
  • Danielle92
    Re: Adult Bed Wetting
    I recently mustered the courage to tell my mother I wear nappies to bed due to my bed wetting the last few weeks. She was ok with it, no…
    17 August 2017
  • EmbarrassingIssues
    Re: Asymmetric Breasts
    lipsy - Your Question:I have a asymmetric breasts and am shy of going to do hospital. I have lived with it since I had fourteen please I need…
    16 August 2017
  • EmbarrassingIssues
    Re: Leaking Nipples
    Fendy - Your Question:Please am 17 just noticed that my breast has produced breast milk am not pregnant, am scared. I want to know if am really ok.
    16 August 2017
  • lipsy
    Re: Asymmetric Breasts
    I have a asymmetric breasts and am shy of going to do hospital. I have lived with it since I had fourteen please I need help.I can't wear…
    14 August 2017
  • Fendy
    Re: Leaking Nipples
    Please am 17 just noticed that my breast has produced breast milk am not pregnant, am scared.. I want to know if am really ok..
    14 August 2017
  • EmbarrassingIssues
    Re: Adult Bed Wetting
    Danielle1992 - Your Question:I'm 24 years old. As a child I used to be a chronic bed wetter. My mum used to take me to the doctors who diagnosed…
    10 August 2017
  • Danielle1992
    Re: Adult Bed Wetting
    I'm 24 years old. As a child I used to be a chronic bed wetter. My mum used to take me to the doctors who diagnosed kidney problems and I was…
    9 August 2017
  • Ronah
    Re: Bleeding During Intercourse
    I also experienced such but trying to get the medication.
    28 July 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the EmbarrassingIssues website. Please read our Disclaimer.