Having a boil could be a real pain in the ass, literally and figuratively. It causes extreme pain when it becomes red, softer, and larger–an indication that it is ripe and should be treated right away. It could last for several days, and could be very uncomfortable even on the slightest touch.
A boil or a furuncle is an infection of the skin commonly caused by staphylococcal bacteria. The bacteria enter the skin through a cut or from the hair down to the follicle. It usually appears on body parts that are prone to friction and sweat such as the armpits, buttocks, neck, shoulders, and in some cases, even on the face. A person could have a bunch of boils at a time, called ‘carbuncle.’ It can be a more serious matter that should be consulted with a doctor and as much as possible should not be just treated at home.
Recognizing a Boil
A boil starts as a pinkish red bump that becomes larger, more tender and painful than a normal pimple. Typically, a boil starts half an inch in size but it could grow even up to the size of a golf ball on rare cases. It grows in just a few days as it collects pus underneath, turning the bump into white. As the lump turns white, a ‘head’ where the pus will be released, will form on its center. Once the ‘head’ is out, the liquid pus is ready to be released in a day or in a couple of days, depending on the level of soreness.
Treating the Boil at Home
Treating a single boil at home is manageable, but should be done with utmost care as it is infectious. On most cases, a relatively small boil will heal on its own in two weeks time. If you just let it be, the head will break on its own and drain the pus overtime.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
- Do not pop the boil with a pin or a needle, especially ones that are not sterilized! Boils are infectious. If the bacteria get to other parts of the body, a new boil may soon develop on those parts.
- Perhaps you’ve heard about popping the boil by pressing the opening of the bottle on the lump. Don’t do this as it is unhygienic and more painful to the infected person. An unstable hand may also cause even more damage to the lump itself.
- Do not share personal items such as clothings that get in direct contact with the boil to prevent the spread of infection.
WHAT TO DO:
- Sanitize all parts of the body by using antibacterial soaps (but do not overuse it) at least three times a day. This prevents bacteria from spreading out infection.
- Apply warm compresses to the surrounding skin of the boil to speed up the growth of the head and decrease the pain. Doing this a number of times will cause the head to break on its own and drain the pus.
- Once the pus is being released, quickly wipe it out with a clean cloth or a tissue. Make sure that it does not flow all throughout the area. You may also opt to clean it with running water and wash it with antibacterial soap. If it’s tolerable, you may gently press the surrounding skin of the boil to help release all the pus. Once the lump has turned flat and less painful, apply rubbing alcohol on the surrounding area.
- Put on a bandage (but not too tight) on the now-flat lump to prevent infection. Make sure air can still flow through the bandage to avoid sweating on the boil.
If a fever arises, a boil will last for more than two weeks. Lymph nodes will become swollen. You maly also have repeated outbreaks of boils when you have diseases such as diabetes or heart problems, make sure you consult with your doctor as this may be more serious than a normal boil.