Boils look like big pimples filled with pus. Boils are often formed due to bacterial infections, significantly caused by group -A streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus. Both infections can be treated with antibiotics. Boils may also be formed due to fungal infections.
If you have a boil or someone in your home has incurred a boil, it is best if you do not share towels, clothes, beddings etc. and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to prevent infection.
Signs and symptoms
- A large pimple-like lesion, filled with pus
- Redness around the affected region
- The affected region will be warmer than other parts of the body
- White heads forming on the boil
- Fever and chills
When you incur a boil, it means you have already been infected by microbes. Therefore, the best way to treat it is to allow it to heal properly. The pressure buildup in the boil will allow it to burst with time and allow drainage of pus. Follow these steps if you have a boil on your skin:
- Keep the affected region clean by washing it regularly with soap and water.
- Cover the boil with a sterile dressing. Boils contain a reservoir of bacteria that can spread to other areas of your body and other people as well. Change the dressing regularly, every day. This should especially be done if the boil is letting out any drainage.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection from spreading.
- Apply a warm compress on your boil everyday as heat encourages pressure buildup and allows the boil to rupture and release pus. Do this several times a day and only use the cloth once.
- Do NOT break the boil and force drainage. Using non-sterile tools or your own hands to break a boil can lead to spreading of the infection or a bigger boil. Therefore, allow the boil to burst and drain on its own.
- Do NOT share beddings, towels, clothes etc. with anyone in your family as this may cause the infection to spread.
When to seek medical help
- If the boil does not heal or drain after one week
- If several boils occur at the same time
- If the boil leads to a fever
- If red streaks are running out of the boil
- If the boil is really big and is causing severe pain and discomfort.
Where to learn more
To learn about basic wound care and recognizing fevers and infections take workplace approved training courses. The following courses teach candidates to manage and recognize wounds and infections.
- Standard First Aid – Click here to view available courses.
- Standard Childcare First Aid – Click here to view available courses.
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