What are boils?

A boil is a bacterial infection of a hair follicle. The bacteria spread from one part of the body to another and from one person to another, via fingers, skin-to-skin contact, and contaminated clothing.

What do boils look like?

It starts as a small tender spot that grows over a few days into a large red lump under the skin surface which is usually painful. It may burst through the surface of the skin releasing its content of pus, or it may settle gradually without bursting.

How can recurrent boils be treated?

The cycle of infection and re-infection needs to be broken by the following measures:

  • Areas where bacteria thrive such as the armpits, axillae and groin need to be cleaned with an antiseptic wash. An antiseptic can also be added to the bath.
  • Nasal carriage of bacteria needs to be cleared with an antibiotic cream applied to each nostril.  An antibiotic cream or ointment can also be used around boils to stop others coming up nearby.
  • If the infection is extensive then antibiotics given by mouth may be required to make sure that the infection clears properly.  

For more sources of information/help click on the links below: