Boils Health (cont.)

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When to Seek Medical Care

  • You have a boil and start running a fever.
  • The skin around the boil turns red or red streaks appear.
  • The pain becomes severe.
  • The boil does not drain.
  • A second boil appears.
  • You have a heart murmur, diabetes, any problem with your immune system, or are taking medications that suppress the immune system (for example, corticosteroids or chemotherapy for cancer) and you develop a boil.
  • Boils usually do not require immediate emergency attention. If you are in poor health and you develop high fever and chills along with the infection, a trip to a hospital's emergency department is needed.

Exams and Tests

Your doctor can make the diagnosis of a boil with a physical exam. A culture of the infection maybe needed to determine the exact type of bacteria causing the infection and the most appropriate antibiotic. If you frequently get boils, your doctor may want to do a blood test to see if you have diabetes.

Boils Treatment

Self-Care at Home

Home therapies should only be used on small boils. If your boil is bigger than a pea or has a lot of redness around it, seek medical attention rather than trying to deal with it yourself.

  • Apply warm compresses, and soak the boil in warm water. This will decrease the pain and help draw the pus to the surface. Once the boil comes to a head, it will burst with repeated soakings. This usually occurs within five to seven days of its appearance. You can make a warm compress by soaking a wash cloth in warm water and squeezing out the excess moisture.
  • When the boil starts draining, wash it with an antibacterial soap until all the pus is gone. Apply a medicated ointment and a bandage. Continue to wash the infected area two to three times a day and to use warm compresses until the wound heals.
  • Do not pop the boil with a needle. This usually results in making the infection worse.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2014

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