Questions and Answers about Boils

Many people have misconceptions about boils. While some people think that they are only part of the ten plagues in the Old Testament, others assume that only dirty people get boils today! Learning about boils and understanding where they come from can help you to deal with this issue in an educated fashion.

Popping Boils

Q: I have a painful boil on my leg and don't know if I'm supposed to pop it, see my doctor, leave it alone, or do something else. Help!

A: You shouldn't pop the boil. A boil is a bacterial infection that happens in the hair follicles. You could go to your doctor if it is particularly painful. The doctor may end up doing a surgical intervention to help you. You may first want to try cold compresses and antibiotics to get the boil to go away.

Dirty with Boils

Q: Someone that I know has boils, and it makes me think that they aren't clean. Only people who are dirty and don't keep up their hygiene could possibly have boils, right?

A: While it is possible that poor hygiene is a cause of boils, there are many other causes as well. Boils could be due to improper nutrition, immune system disorders, diabetes, and a few other issues.

No Risk, Right?

Q: If I'm generally healthy and take care of myself, I assume that I'm not at risk for developing boils. Is this true?

A: While you are probably not at a high risk, you certainly could be at risk because there are certain conditions that make you at higher risk for developing boils. These include having a compromised immune system, since your body can't fight off bacteria and infections as well. If you have diabetes you are also at greater risk, since people with diabetes have difficulty recovering from injuries and illnesses. If you have nutrition issues or hygiene problems, you are also at higher risk. If you live with someone who has boils, or are often around someone who does, you've put yourself at higher risk. Finally, if you have other skin issues, you are more likely to develop boils, as your skin is already damaged and doesn't have the protective barrier that would prevent boils from entering your system.

Contagious Boils?

Q: I go to the gym with someone who clearly has boils, but I'm not worried about getting them from him. My other friends say that I'm crazy and that I should change gyms! Who is right?

A: Boils definitely are contagious. This doesn't mean, however, that you should switch gyms. The boil can spread from one person to the next, if you come into contact with the infected pus. When you come into contact with pus from a boil, you also have contact with the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the pus. This can cause you to have an infection, such as a boil. This is particularly true if you already have skin abrasions or issues. Assuming that you keep your hygiene up in the gym and don't share towels, soap, or shoes with anyone else, you should be alright.

Baths with Boils

Q: I love taking baths. Someone recently told me, however, that I shouldn't take baths if I have a boil. Is this true?

A: Yes, actually. It is much better to shower if you have boils than it is to bathe in a bathtub. During the bath the bacteria from the boil enters the bathwater. This can then move to other areas of the skin. It is, therefore, strongly advised that you take a shower with boils. You should also make sure not to share your towel with anyone else in the house and to wash your contaminated sheets, towels and clothes with anti-bacterial soap.

Learning more about the facts about boils can help you to prevent them and to treat them correctly should they occur.