Boils are pink or red, very tender bumps under your skin, which occurs when bacteria infect one or more of your hair follicles. The bumps are usually larger than ½ inch in diameter. They typically grow rapidly, fill with pus and then burst, drain and heal. Although some boils resolve a few days after they appear, most burst and heal within two weeks.
Boils can occur anywhere on your skin, but most often on your face, neck, armpits, buttocks or thighs. Poor health, clothing that binds or chafes and disorders such as acne, dermatitis, diabetes and anemia can increase your risk of infection.
To avoid spreading this infection and to minimize discomfort, follow these measures:
· Soak the area with a warm washcloth or compress for about 30 minutes every few hours. Doing so may help the boil burst and drain much sooner. Use warm saltwater. (Add one teaspoon of salt too 1 quart of boiling water and let it cool.)
· Gently wash the sore twice a day with antibacterial soap. Cover the sore with a bandage to prevent spreading.
· Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin.
· Never squeeze or lance a boil, because you might spread the infection.
· Launder towels, compresses or clothing that has touched the infected area.
Contact your health care provider if the infection is located on your spine or on your face, worsens rapidly or causes severe pain or has not disappeared within two weeks or is accompanied by fever or reddish lines radiating from the boil. In some cases, antibiotics or surgical drainage may be necessary to clear your infection.
Source : MAYO CLINIC – Guide to Self-Care
Author : Philip T. Hagen, M.D.