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How to Treat a Skin Boil

A skin boil occurs when staphylococcus bacteria become trapped within a hair follicle, resulting in a painful skin infection. Although boils characteristically contain pus, and thus become abscesses, this does not always occur. Boils range considerably in size from small boils that are little more than a nuisance to boils larger than a golf ball.

One of the important things to remember when performing home treatment is that staphylococcus bacteria is contagious. No one else should touch the boil or touch clothing that has come into contact with the boil-especially if it is leaking or oozing. If possible, wear sterile gloves when treating the boil.

The majority of boils fill with fluid, grow in size and eventually burst. Bursting releases the pressure within the abscess and alleviates the pain that pressure causes for the sufferer. You can encourage a boil to burst by placing warm compresses against the skin where it is located several times a day. Ibuprofen works well for treating the pain associated with boils because in addition to its pain relieving properties it does double-duty as an anti-inflammatory.

Although doctors never recommend squeezing a boil until it pops, individuals can drain boils themselves at home by waiting until the boil bursts on its own and then pulling the skin taut around the boil to facilitate drainage. Once the boil has drained, cover the area with a sterile dressing and antibiotic cream or gel.

Never forget that a boil is, at its heart, an infection. If it doesn’t go away on its own, the infection may spread to other parts of the body and cause extreme illness without proper treatment. If your boil lasts longer than a week or you suffer from a high fever, fatigue or nausea and vomiting, you may have a more serious medical condition and should seek treatment immediately.

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