If you or someone close to you has a boil that is actively leaking pus, you should cover it — or encourage them to keep the abscess covered — with a clean bandage.
Technically, boils cannot be spread. However, the infection that causes the red bump in your skin is likely caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
This staph bacteria can be spread by contact with other people or with other parts of your body, possibly resulting in boils or another type of infection.
Boils can also be caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This is a type of bacteria that has become immune to some antibiotics, making it harder to treat.
If a boil has been caused by MRSA, you must be very careful to prevent the pus and liquid from the boil from coming into contact with other people.
To prevent the infection inside of boils from causing other infection, you must practice good hygiene and care for the infected area.
- Wash your hands often.
- Do not touch the infected area more than necessary.
- Do not share towels, razors, or washcloths.
- Cover the wound with clean bandages.
- Do not attempt to pop or lance (cut open with a sharp instrument) the boil at home.
- Wash the area gently and often with a washcloth, but do not reuse washcloth.
A boil is an infection that develops inside the hair follicle. Therefore, boils can occur anywhere that you have hair, but are commonly found on the
A boil occurs in the hair follicle and pushes itself up towards the surface of the skin. The bump that results from the boil is filled with pus. If the infection spreads to hair follicles in the immediate area, the boil is classified as a carbuncle which is a cluster of boils.
Boils are caused by an infection that develops in the hair follicle. You have a higher risk if you have:
- come in contact with staph bacteria
- a weakened immune system
- shared personal items with someone who has boils
- come in contact with surfaces that may carry bacteria such as wrestling mats, public showers or gym equipment.
Boils are not typically sexually transmitted. However, if you come in close contact with someone who has a boil that is leaking, you should wash with antibacterial soap as soon as possible.
You should encourage that person to keep the boil covered. The pus inside of a boil commonly carries contagious bacteria.
Boils can heal on their own with time, but usually need to drain in order to heal completely.
To help the boil heal quickly, apply warm compresses to the boil to help the it open naturally and drain.
Do not pick or attempt to pop your boil as this will allow the pus to come in contact with other surfaces and spread infection. Be sure to keep the area clean and covered with sterile bandages.
If your boil does not heal on its own in two weeks, you may need to have the boil surgically lanced and drained. A doctor will make an incision in your boil to allow the pus to drain. The doctor may pack the wound with gauze to help soak up any excess pus.
Boils themselves are not contagious, but the pus and liquid inside of the boil can cause additional infection to yourself and others. The pus can contain bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.
If you have a boil, keep the area clean and do not share personal items with other people.
Sharing towels or clothing that touches the area can cause the bacteria to spread to other people or other places on your body, which can result in more boils or other types of infections.