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Q.

Are boils contagious?

Related Topics: Boil
 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

Internal Medicine
Emory University
131 Answers
140,877 Helpful Votes
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A.

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.

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Answers from Contributors (4)

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A.
in my family it has been contagious just by walking into the infected persons home with never touching a thing and walking right back out and within 25-48 hours will have one so for us it has been airborn and recently when one gets a boul another gets mrsa 

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