Are Boils An STD?
Boil infections are not passed from person to person through the mucus membranes (bodily fluids). For this reason, medics do not categorize boils as a sexually transmitted disease. Boils can however, be spread through close physical contact – generally when someone who has a boil infection is in close contact with another person who has a cut, sore or scrape on their skin. If you have an open wound of some kind on your skin, you could contract boils by having sex with someone who is a carrier of the bacteria that causes boils.
Boils are caused by bacteria often referred to as “staph” bacteria – the bacterium’s full name is Staphylococcus aurea. What usually happens is that the staph bacteria infect a hair follicle on the skin and a boil develops as a result. If you think you might have a boil, check out our page on symptoms.
Although anyone can develop boils, they are more common among teenagers and young adults. Many people are carriers of Staphylococcus aurea bacteria. These bacteria can live on the skin, in the nose and in the throat and, more often that not, they never cause any problems for the carrier. If you’ve had boils in the past or been in contact with someone who does, you can ask your doctor to test you for the bacteria.
For boils to be passed on during sex, it would require one partner to already have the staph bacteria (either living on the skin or actually causing a boil) and for the staph bacteria to come into contact with an open wound on the other partner’s skin. Even if this does happen, it’s not guaranteed that the infection would be passed on. Boils are most likely to occur on parts of the body where clothes rub against the skin, where different parts of the body rub against each other, and where there is sweat. This means that boil infections may occur in places like the groin or genital area, or between the buttocks. Obviously, these parts of the body come into contact with someone else during sex. Boils can, however, occur on the face or anywhere else. Contact with someone else’s skin during an outbreak of boils should therefore always be avoided, regardless of which part of the body is affected.
Even living in the same house as someone who has a boil makes you more likely to get an infection yourself, therefore it’s obvious that having sex or close physical contact with someone who has a boil is quite risky. Condoms won’t protect you. If you or your partner has a boil, you should avoid sex and consult your doctor about treatment and about how to avoid spreading the bacteria. Don’t forget to wash your hands with soap regularly; keep cuts, scrapes or sores clean and covered; and don’t share personal things like towels or razors. Remember that staph bacteria can be spread via objects as well as from skin to skin. Therefore sharing clothing and even bed sheets with someone who has an outbreak of boils is not recommended!