Boils are another surprisingly common thing seen during pregnancy that no one talks about until it happens to them. I didn’t even know what a boil was until I got one when I was pregnant.
That’s why I decided to make this one of the most informative articles I can on boils. We’ll cover what causes them, how to prevent them, and how you can finally find some relief.
In this article
- What Is A Boil?
- What’s The Difference Between A Boil And A Cyst?
- Types Of Boils
- What Causes Boils?
- How Do You Treat Boils?
- Should You Drain A Boil?
- When Should You Call The Doctor?
- How To Prevent Boils
- In Conclusion
What Is A Boil?
A boil is a red bump under the skin. Usually, these are inflamed. Sometimes, they’re really painful.
Unfortunately, this broad definition has led to many doctors calling just about anything that results in a bump under the skin a boil. There are several different types of boils, though.
What’s The Difference Between A Boil And A Cyst?
Both of these cause lumps under the skin, so it’s easy to get them confused. The main difference is that a cyst is simply there. These are usually benign, not contagious, and might go away on their own.
A boil is characterized by being a bacterial or fungal infection. If you have a boil, it can spread. This will result in you having more boils than the original one if left untreated.
The bacteria can be contagious if you touch it and then touch another area. For example, if you pop a pimple that is full of bacteria. don’t wash your hands and then touch your eye.
Types Of Boils
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Although every boil is the result of a bacterial or fungal infection, there are a few different types.
If you want to identify a boil, learning about the common types of boils will help you do just that. Some of these are just boils but are identified based on their location on the body.
Cystic acne is when the area under the pimple becomes infected. You’ll notice that under a pimple, or where there used to be a pimple, there is a red, swollen bump.
This is caused by the infection. You can solve this on your own by squeezing the infection out through the pimple if there is a head. If there is not, you’ll need to consult a doctor for assistance.
A carbuncle is when you have several boils that are together in a small cluster under the skin.
Most people will see this when they have one small boil that is the result of a bacterial or fungal infection. It then spreads into nearby areas, creating more boils. The end result is the carbuncle.
This is labeled as a cyst, but technically it’s a boil because the lump under the skin is usually full of pus. This cyst can be found right above the butt at the base of your spine. Typically, these require surgery to be removed.
A Bartholin’s Cyst is when this glad gets infected. There is one located on each side of the vaginal opening. Sometimes, there is a small cyst. In this situation, it is actually a cyst.
However, sometimes those cysts can become infections, and at this point, it is a boil. If you have a lump but aren’t sure, apply pressure. A cyst is usually painless. Boils typically are inflamed and painful.
What Causes Boils?
There are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly causes boils. Many people still believe that if you have a boil it means that your dirty or your hygiene isn’t quite where it should be because bacteria cause these.
However, that is not the only cause of boils. In fact, most of us always have bacteria somewhere on our bodies. Wearing tight clothing can be enough to help it find its way underneath our skin. These are the most common causes of boils.
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While every boil is not caused by poor hygiene, poor hygiene can cause a boil. This is because when you have poor hygiene.
There are more bacteria in the body compared to when you shower daily. The end result is that it makes you more likely to develop a boil.
Ingrown hairs provide the perfect pathway for bacteria to enter the body. This is why they often wind up turning into a boil. Ingrown hairs start off as hair growing the wrong way.
They might be painful, but sometimes they are simply red and mildly irritated.
Modern lifestyles are often sedentary. Sitting for prolonged periods of time is not good for us though.
It can be one of the causes of a boil, too. The pilonidal cysts are known for forming after extremely long periods of time, such as on a long trip.
You’re At An Increased Risk For Developing Boils
While being at an increased risk for boils doesn’t make you develop them, it does increase your chances a lot. This is because the risk factors often involve a compromised immune system.
Medications and medical conditions that will increase your chances of developing a boil include, but are not limited to:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Kidney failure
- Cortisone medications
- Chemotherapy medications
Anything that compromises the immune system will increase your chances of developing a boil. This is because the body typically fights off the infection if it can.
When your immune system is not where it should be, it cannot fight off the infection when bacteria make their way into your body.
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When you wear tight clothing, the friction makes it easier for bacteria that are on the skin to work their way under the skin.
Tight clothing like skinny jeans and leggings can be a recipe for developing boils. It can make it more likely that ingrown hairs will turn into boils as well.
When you’re pregnant, your immune system is simply not at its best. You’re more likely to get the flu or fall ill, even if you take your prenatal vitamins. This can also make you more likely to develop boils.
Poor nutrition can impact your immune system just like the other things on this list can. In fact, it can destroy your immune system.
Your body relies on a healthy diet to get the vital vitamins and nutrients that it needs in order to be healthy. Without a healthy diet, you won’t have a healthy immune system.
Cuts On The Skin
If you have small cuts on the skin or a condition that causes a break in the skin anywhere, you’re more likely to develop a boil.
This is simply because the cut gives the bacteria on the skin an easy entrance into your body. This could be anything from dry hands cracking or small shaving cuts to getting a splinter.
How Do You Treat Boils?
Although there are a couple of exceptions, most boils won’t require surgery. They can easily be treated at home. It’s often recommended that you try to treat them at home if you can.
Put A Warm Compress On The Boil
Use a warm compress or heating pad to help encourage the boil to drain itself and ease some of the discomforts. To do this, simply place a warm compress on the boil.
Let it sit for approximately twenty minutes. Then, repeat as necessary. Over time, this can reduce inflammation. The heat will increase circulation in the area, which will help your body fight the infection on its own.
Put Castor Oil On The Affected Area
Castor oil works wonderfully as both an antibacterial agent and it has anti-inflammatory properties.
To use castor oil for a boil, apply it to the area three times a day. It doesn’t usually cause irritation to the skin, so you won’t have to worry about using too much or too little.
Apply Tea Tree Oil To The Area
Tea tree oil is known for its amazing antibacterial properties. This makes it ideal for fighting infections, including the ones that can cause a boil.
To use tea tree oil for a boil, apply it to the area once or twice daily. Make sure to use only a few drops. If you apply too much tea tree oil to the area, it can cause irritation.
OTC Antibiotic Ointment
They sell antibiotic ointment over the counter at most pharmacies. There is usually a packet included in first aid kits that you buy, too.
This can be used instead of tea tree oil. To use this, pick up a tube or order some offline. Then, follow the directions that have been provided.
Should You Drain A Boil?
It can be tempting to squeeze all of the pus out of a boil to finally get some relief. However, this can be very dangerous. It should only be done by a trained medical professional.
If you do not do it properly, it can push the infection deeper into your body. This can result in an infection of the blood, the infection being worse, or more boils.
When Should You Call The Doctor?
There are certain times with treating a boil at home is not the best option. For example, if you have a compromised immune system, you should seek advice from a trained medical professional first. Other times you should call the doctor include:
- If at-home treatments have no impact for 5-7 days
- It is too painful to bear
- The size is at or exceeds the size of a ping pong ball
- There are red streaks coming from the boil under the skin
- You have diabetes or another medical condition
If you’re concerned, you should always consult a medical professional. It’s always better to call a doctor and be told to wait a week than to not call a doctor and wind up in the hospital.
How To Prevent Boils
If you’ve had one boil, you’re more likely to develop another boil. How you prevent future boils will depend on what caused the boil to begin with.
For example, if it started as ingrown hair, you’ll need to prevent ingrown hairs. All of this advice will not be applicable to every situation. Take what you need and leave the rest.
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Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
Wearing loose-fitting clothing can prevent boils that are from tight-fitting clothing. Make sure that pants fit properly and aren’t too snug in certain areas.
If possible, give your body a break when you wear tight-fitting clothing. Take off the leggings and put on some cozy house shorts when you get home for the day.
Shower Daily With Antibacterial Soap
We’ve all heard that daily showers are bad for us and that antibacterial soap is horrible.
However, if you’re getting boils, antibacterial soap is your new best friend. This will kill the bacteria present on the skin. If it isn’t there, it can’t cause a boil.
Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs are a common spot for boils to occur. The ingrown hairs make it easy for bacteria to nestle into the hair follicle and multiply.
To prevent ingrown hairs, make sure that you shave in the direction that the hair is growing. Don’t shave dry skin, even if you’re in a hurry.
When no shaving cream or gel is available, use warm water. Make sure that your razor blade is not dull. Last, use a good lotion or after-shave gel when you’re done.
Stretch Your Legs On Long Trips
Not only can this prevent cysts, but it can also prevent blood clots. If you’re on an airplane walk to the bathroom and back.
Those taking a road trip can pull over at rest stops to walk around every 2-3 hours. This relieves the pressure put on the area above your butt.
Eat A Healthy Diet
If your immune system is up to par, it can usually handle a small boil on its own. This is why pus is typically white. The body has sent plenty of white blood cells to attack the infection.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to make sure that happens. Following these tips can help you start down the road to living a healthier lifestyle.
When you’ve found yourself with a boil, start by applying a warm compress. If symptoms worsen or you are concerned, contact your doctor.
However, those with a compromised immune system or medical condition should consult their primary care provider to make sure that additional assistance isn’t needed.
Do your best to solve situations that may have caused the boil to prevent future boils from occurring.