Consult your healthcare professional if:
- The boil causes excessive pain
- The boil is located on your lip, nose, cheeks, forehead, or spine
- You have a boil that is very tender, particularly if it has red lines radiating from it, or if you have fever and chills which may indicate that the infection has spread
- You are taking corticosteroidal medication such as prednisone or cortisone and develop boils
- If you have a carbuncle (cluster of boils) or if you experience recurrent boils
A boil starts by being red and tender, with pus becoming visible under the skin after about a week. This causes the boil to develop a white colour. The boil can become quite swollen and painful before the skin breaks, the pus drains, and the sore clears.
The most common locations are the face, neck, buttocks and armpits. A boil on the eyelid is referred to as a sty.
A cluster or clump of boils is called a carbuncle. Carbuncles need immediate medical treatment to prevent the infection entering the blood stream. Boils inside the nose also require medical attention.
Boils in the genital area should always be investigated by your healthcare professional.
Boils are caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus (also referred to as "Staph" or sometimes "golden staph"). The bacteria typically enter the body through cuts, scratches, and other breaks in the skin.
Risk factors include lowered immunity, diabetes, poor personal hygiene, exposure to certain industrial chemicals, overuse of corticosteroid medications, and poor nutrition.
Life Style Factors
- Ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition and supporting your immune system by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Include foods with known antimicrobial properties such as onion and garlic in your diet.
Nicks and breaks in the skin that are left untreated allow the entry of the Staph. bacteria into the blood stream. Clean and disinfect any skin wounds as soon as possible after they occur.
If you have diabetes, maintaining balanced blood sugar levels through diet and medication will reduce the likelihood of boils and other skin infections occurring. Consult your healthcare professional for further information.