Boils and Styes

Painful, red, pus-filled infected bumps are called boils when a hair follicle or oil gland is involved. They are called styes when they present on the eyelid.

Usually a boil or stye will go away on its own, but there are some things that you can do at home to help take care of the infection.

Do not squeeze or pinch the boil or stye open. That could make the symptoms worse, healing take longer, and possibly cause the spreading of the infection to other parts of your body (especially if you have cuts or open sensitive areas in your skin).

Keep the boil or stye and the area around them clean. Do not touch or scratch them. If you have a stye, please do not wear makeup or contacts until it has healed.

A warm compress is a soothing way to treat a boil or stye. Soak a clean washcloth in warm to hot water, but not too hot. Make sure that it is a comfortable heat for you. Then apply the compress to the infected area and hold it there for ten to 15 minutes several times a day. Continue this until the boil or stye diminishes and the pus is released. This should happen on its own; do not squeeze or puncture the boil or stye.

If the area is painful, you might consider an over-the-counter pain reducer such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If your boil or stye bursts, please cover it with gauze or a Band-aid while it heals.

If healing doesn’t occur within a few days of the boil or stye, or if the conditions get worse, more develop, or you have a fever and/or trouble with vision, contact your dermatologist immediately.

Those with diabetes, acne, eczema, or any kind of compromised immune system are more at risk for boils and styes, but they can occur in otherwise healthy people as well.

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