A boil is an infection of the hair follicle that results in a painful swollen bump in the skin. When there are a lot of boils grouped together, this results in a carbuncle. The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is almost always the cause of the infection, although there are other bacteria that can cause boils. The infection involves the accumulation of dead tissue and pus, and sometimes blood. Sometimes, a boil can form in the vicinity of a cut on the skin or even randomly. Another term for a boil is furuncle.
Since boils are caused by bacteria, one way to prevent them is to maintain good hygiene. This is especially true when you have a wound or even a tiny scratch. Washing with antibacterial soap will help prevent getting an infection that may result in a boil.
Once you notice that a boil has developed, the best thing that you can do is treat it at once. Putting a warm compress over the boil will help alleviate the pain and irritation and draw out the source of infection as well. You have to repeat this over the next few days until the boil bursts on its own. You also have to make sure that the area is always clean and is not restricted by tight clothing.
When boil bursts, pus and blood may come out. Just make sure that you keep the area clean by washing it with warm water and soap. It will heal on its own. You may also use antibacterial cream to hasten the healing process.
If the boil does not burst, becomes hard, and continues to be painful, you have to see a doctor for lancing or surgical removal.