Home > Common Ailments > B > BOILS



What is it?
A boil is an abscess or pocket of infection around the base of a hair follicle. Bacteria accumulate to form thick yellow or white pus within the inflamed area. A Carbuncle is a collection of boils.

Symptoms: Starts as a red tender lump, which may throb. Gradually becomes larger and more painful. As pus collects, it develops a white or yellow head. The pus may burst or slowly disappear on its own.

Causes: Infection by bacteria.

Treatment in the home: Most boils disappear on their own within a week. Do not squeeze a boil, as this will only spread the infection. Apply a hot poultice will help to bring the boil to a head. Keep the boil and the surrounding area clean, particularly after it bursts. Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, as the bacteria of a boil can cause food poisoning.

When to consult a doctor: If the boil is painful, If you have any recurrent boils.

What the doctor may do: Lance the boil. Apply a dressing to keep the area clean and absorb any discharge. Take blood and urine samples to exclude the possibility of diabetes. If boils are recurrent, take a nose swab to determine if you are a carrier of a particular germ causing the boils.