A boil is actually an infected hair follicle on the body. The hair follicle is invaded by bacteria that sets up an infection and causes the boil to occur. The boil may remind you of a pimple in its very earliest stages because it will begin as a reddened and painful bump on the skin. A boil is generally much larger than a pimple and it is definitely a lot more painful than a pimple.
The duration of a boil is generally two weeks or less and they generally come to a head and rupture on their own when left alone. Sometimes the boil will be so deep in your skin that it cannot come to the surface to drain without assistance and this is when you need to see a doctor so you can have the boil lanced and removed.
Boils are commonly caused by what we call a Staph infection. This bacteria is present in the human nasal passages, in our throats, and even on our skin. The bacteria is generally present but does not cause us any problems. It can however invade our bodies and create serious conditions for us. Staph is a contagious bacteria so boils are contagious.
Soothe Boils with Hot Compresses
Hot water serves the purpose of helping to reduce some of the pain of the boil but it also helps the boil to come to the surface so that it can rupture. A boil cannot heal until the infection inside it is drained so the quicker a boil reaches the surfaces and ruptures the quicker it will go away.
After the boil has ruptured wash the area thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and apply a bandage to stop the drainage from coming in contact with other areas of your skin. For a couple of days you can continue your applications of hot compresses to make certain all of the infection has been removed.
Never Squeeze a Boil
Whenever you have something like a boil it is common for people to attempt to grasp them between their fingers and force them to rupture. This is understandable because they want relief from the pain but it can actually cause you more problems. Whenever you apply pressure to the tender swollen skin around the boil you can cause damage to the layers beneath the surface. This can actually allow the infection to spread more.
Instead of forcing the boil to rupture you should apply hot compresses and allow the boil to rise to the surface. It will get a large pustule on the top of it as the infection draws nearer to the surface and when the infection has drawn close enough to the top to create adequate pressure the boil will rupture at the slightest touch.
If you do squeeze these types of infected bumps you can cause scarring of the skin that will be permanent. Often these scars will appear like badly bruised places at first and the discoloration will generally fade some over time.