Boils Health (cont.)

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Medical Treatment

If the boil is large, your health-care provider may need to open it up and drain the pus. This is done with a scalpel after the area of the boil is numbed with a local anesthetic.

If the infection is deep, your doctor may put some gauze in the incision to keep it open and draining. The gauze is usually removed in two days.

If there are concerns about the seriousness of the infection, blood tests may be needed. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

A large skin abscess caused by a staph infection may need to be surgically opened and drained and treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Next Steps

Follow-up

Whether the boil is drained at home or is lanced by a doctor, you will need to clean the infected area two to three times a day until the wound is healed. Apply an antibiotic ointment after washing and cover with a bandage. If the area turns red or looks as if it is getting infected again, contact your doctor.

Prevention

Help prevent boils by following these guidelines:

  • Carefully wash clothes, bed linens, and towels of a family member who is infected with boils.
  • Clean and treat minor skin wounds.
  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Stay as healthy as possible.

Outlook

Most boils can be successfully treated if prompt care is taken.

Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American Board of Surgery

Previous contributing editors: Editors: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM, Research Director, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor III, MD, Vice-Chief, Compliance Officer, Attending Physician Emergency Medicine Residency, Department of Emergency Medicine, Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, University of South Carolina.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2014

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