skin boils

What is the best treatment for a boil?

Most small boils can be readily treated at home. Under ideas circumstances, the treatment should begin as soon as one notices the boil. The earlier the treatment the less likely there will be more complications down the road.

The best treatment for most boils is a heat application. This can be done with hot packs or hot soaks. The heat application will increase the circulation to the area. Additionally it will allow the body to better fight off the infection by calling antibodies and white blood cells to the area of the infection.

If the boil is small and firm it is not recommended to open the area and drain the boil. Even though one might think this will help the pain it may not. However, if the boil has become soft or formed a head, it can than be drained. Once drained, one should feel substantial relief as the pressure has been removed. Many small boils, such as those that form near hairs, often drain on their own without pricking if they are soaked. Occasionally and more often with larger boils, the boil will need to be drained, lanced or "pricked" by a doctor or nurse. The larger boils often contain several pockets of pus that must be individually opened and drained.

Antibiotics are often prescribed to eliminate the accompanying bacterial infection. If there is an infection near the area of the boil the doctor should prescribe antibiotics. However, antibiotics should not be used in every situation. In fact, antibiotics may cause more harm under certain circumstances. It may become difficult to penetrate the outer wall of an abscess well. Additionally they will not cure an abscess without additional lancing and drainage.

Should I seek medical attention?

Anyone who has diabetes or an illness that causes a weakened immune system should see a doctor or a nurse. This includes people with arthritis, cancer, HIV, and similar diseases. Additionally, people that are taking medications that suppress the immune system especially prednisone, should seek the advise of a qualified physician. This is because complications can arise out of should be a simple boil. If you are don't know about what your medications' effects are on the immune system, a pharmacist should be able to explain to you the medicines you need to be concerned about.

If you develop a fever and have a boil a medical professional should be contacted. A "pilonidal cyst," is a boil that occurs between the buttocks, is a special case. Hence the term boil on the buttocks. These almost always require medical treatment including drainage and packing. This may constitute of putting gauze in the opened abscess to make sure it continues to drain. Additionally if you have a painful boil that is not making improvements you should be seen by a doctor.


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