Boils themselves are not contagious, but the bacteria that cause boils are.
Boils are skin infections, commonly caused by the bacteria in the family staphylococcus or by other bacteria. The bacteria manage to temporarily evade the body’s defenses and grow in a tightly defined area. Small boils often go away without treatment. In some cases, the skin infection may progress to become an abscess: a lump with a pocket of infected liquid (pus) inside.
Touching someone’s boil, then your own skin, won’t necessarily cause a boil to form there. The process by which boils form is more complicated than that. The bacteria may spread to the new person’s skin, but never cause a boil. Some people are more susceptible to boils and skin infections than others.
One member of the staphylococcus family called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) causes a large percentage of boils today. MRSA is spread from person to person in close contact. Outbreaks of MRSA have occurred in dormitories, military barracks, athletic facilities, and prisons -- all places where people are in close contact.
Good personal hygiene is the most sensible approach to prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause skin infections. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching a boil. A boil can be kept lightly covered with clean gauze. Apply warm-water compresses to help your body clear the infection. If you have a persistent boil or feel you need to squeeze or lance a boil, see a doctor.
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
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