Medical experts are conflicted about using the word “spread” when referring to boils.
Do boils spread?
But the bacteria that is usually responsible for boils, which is staphylococcus aureus, is easily spread.
This bacteria can be spread from person to person, or among parts of the same body.
The first thing you should know is that we have all come in contact with s. aureus at several points in our lives.
It is a common bacterium that lives harmlessly on the human skin and in our nostrils.
You may even have some on you right now.
However, some conditions can allow this bacteria into our skin tissues, making it harmful.
We can either spread it from one body part to another or from one person to another.
Here are the different ways in which boil-causing bacteria can be spread, and how to prevent boils.
How Boils Spread
Irritated hair follicles
Bacteria can travel down hair follicles into the deeper layers of the skin.
If your hair follicles are irritated or inflamed, a condition known as folliculitis, it’s easier for the bacteria on your skin to start forming boils.
Poor hair removal practices, acne, excessive sweating, wounds, and clothing friction are all reasons why your hair follicles may be irritated.
Compromised skin barrier
People with irritated skin, tears, and lesions are at a higher risk of developing boils.
When the natural skin barrier is broken, bacteria and other organisms can penetrate easily.
If you have a job or hobby that puts your skin in constant contact with harsh chemicals, you may develop boils at some point.
People who undergo intense skin treatments without proper care may also harm their skin’s barrier and increase their chances of developing boils.
Weak immune system
The immune system -white blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system, and other organs- is responsible for protecting us against infections.
Once affected, the body’s defenses against bacteria becomes less effective.
People with a long history of medication may have reduced immune performance.
There are some illnesses and disorders which also contribute to a weakened immune system.
Anyone with this issue is at a higher risk of developing boils and other skin infections.
Body contact with bacteria-heavy surfaces
Everything from gym equipment to the pens at your local bank is loaded with bacteria.
Hundreds of people use these items every day after eating, going to the bathroom, picking their noses, and so on.
When you use these items, your skin picks up new bacteria.
Bacteria from open boils or wounds from someone else could easily burrow into your skin and cause boils.
Railings on public staircases such as the pathway to an underground train station also host a lot of germs and bacteria.
Sharing personal items with someone who has boils
Clothing, towels, razors, sponges, and other personal items often come in contact with body fluids.
When someone else uses these items, they transfer bacteria from the first user to the second.
The first person doesn’t need to have boils on their skin to spread the infection.
As long as they carry the s. aureus bacteria, they can spread the infection.
Eczema and other skin issues
Infections such as eczema weaken the barrier of the skin, allowing new infection-causing bacteria to fester.
This is one example of comorbid conditions; the existence of two illnesses, with one serving as the gateway for the other.
Infected skin could be itchy or dry, causing the affected person to constantly touch that area.
With constant irritation, the skin’s barrier will be broken, allowing bacteria to enter and cause new problems.
Existing boils on the body
When a person develops a boil, it increases their chances of seeing new boils form.
The first reason is that they may be touching the boil and without washing their hands, touching other parts of the body.
The second reason is that the bacteria causing the boil operates within the skin’s tissues and can easily spread around.
How to Prevent Boils from Spreading
There are personal changes you can make to avoid contracting boils, spreading it to other people, or spreading it to new parts of your body.
Here are our recommended practices.
Maintain good hygiene
Good hygiene helps to avoid the build-up of bacteria on your skin.
Of course, we all carry bacteria unless we choose to live in a sterile room forever.
However, the lower your bacteria count, the less likely it is for a hair follicle to get infected, and for boils to form.
If you’re prone to developing boils, start bathing with anti-bacterial soaps.
Clean public equipment before use
Give gym equipment and other public items a quick wipe down before use.
You can carry a small pack of anti-bacterial wipes with around with you.
Pack smaller items that will come in handy (such as pens) in your purse or bag.
Avoid using the railings on stairways or touching door handles with your bare hands.
Disinfect and treat injuries
Don’t ignore cuts and scrapes.
They provide easy penetration sites for bacteria.
Clean and disinfect injuries once you notice them.
For better results, cover injuries with bandages so you don’t unconsciously touch or scratch at them.
Avoid picking at existing boils
Boils are painful and honestly, unpleasing to the eye.
When you have one, you get the urge to pop it so it can go away quickly.
It is important to resist this urge.
Picking at your boil can transfer its fluids to your hand, which you will use later to touch other body parts.
This is one easy way to keep spreading boils around your body.
If you have a boil, let it peak and drain by itself, or ask a medical professional to drain it for you.
Don’t share personal items
Avoid sharing personal items with others, regardless of your relationship with them.
Also, don’t mix these items, e.g hanging bath towels by stacking them on one another.
If someone refuses to stop using your personal things, set hard limits or buy them a separate set.
While boil-causing bacteria can be spread, it’s also easy to prevent.
If you have a history of boils, paying better attention to how you care for your body can make all the difference.
For recurring boils that refuse to go away, ask your doctor for help.
If you prefer to ignore big pharma and use natural boil removal methods, then you might want to go here.