When bacteria invade and inflame one or more of your hair follicles, they result in a painful, pus-filled bump under your skin known as boils. Boils (also known as Furuncles) commonly start as tender reddish or purplish spots. The pus-filled nodes soon expand and become more painful until they rupture and drain. The most frequently affected areas are the face, back of the neck, armpits, thighs, and buttocks. A single boil may typically be treated at home. But it is recommended not to poke or put pressure on it because this could spread the infection.
Staphylococcus Aureus, a bacteria typically found on the skin and inside the nose, is the most common cause of boils. As pus collects beneath the skin, a bump appears. Boils can form when the skin is broken by a minor injury or an insect bite, allowing bacteria to enter the body quickly. Other forms of bacteria or fungi found on the skin's surface can also cause them. When the hair follicle is damaged, the infection can spread further into the strand and the surrounding tissues.
Boils can appear anywhere on the body in the hair follicles. The face, neck, armpit, buttocks, and thighs are the most commonly affected. You could have one or more boils. The condition could be a one-time or long-term (chronic) problem.
A boil usually has the following signs and symptoms:
Other symptoms could include:
The appearance of a boil is generally enough for a health care provider to diagnose it. A sample of cells from the spot may be submitted to the lab for staphylococcus or other bacteria to be cultured. Pus culture is the gold standard laboratory test for diagnosing boils. Other non-specific findings may be observed. The following are examples of laboratory findings that support the diagnosis of abscesses:
Infections can be both sub-acute and chronic. The most frequent bacteria to grow is Staphylococcus aureus. Other bacteria, on the other hand, maybe present. The results of the sensitivity test help in determining the antibiotic regimen to be employed.
Large or recurrent boils that originate in sensitive regions (such as the crotch, breasts, armpits, around or in the nostrils, or the ear) may require antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics should not be used for more than one month at a time, with at least two months (preferably longer) between doses, or their effectiveness will be lost.
After a period of itching and mild pain, boils usually heal independently. As pus builds up, they often become more painful. To heal, boils usually need to be opened and drained. This usually happens within two weeks. You should:
To drain deep or large boils, a surgical procedure may be required sometimes. If the boils have been present for more than two years, plastic surgery may be necessary to remove them. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek help from your healthcare provider:
A boil must be kept clean at all times. To do so, follow these steps:
Some people get boils regularly and are unable to prevent them. Boils in sensitive areas like the ear canal or nose can be painful and unpleasant. Bacteria from a boil or carbuncle can sometimes enter the bloodstream and spread to other regions of the body. The infection, also known as blood poisoning (sepsis), can spread throughout your body, causing infections in places including your heart (endocarditis) and bones (osteomyelitis).
It is not always possible to avoid boils, especially if your immune system is weak. However, taking the following precautions will help you avoid staph infections:
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available.