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Boils - Symptoms and Treatment

A boil is a red, swollen, painful bump under the skin that is caused by an infection. Boils often start in an infected hair follicle. Boils usually start as red, tender lumps. The lumps quickly fill with pus, growing larger and more painful until they rupture and drain. Although some boils disappear a few days after they occur, most take about two weeks to heal. Boils can occur anywhere, but common sites include the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, groin, and thighs. A boil on the eyelid is known as a stye. A collection or cluster of boils is called a carbuncle. Boils usually resolve by themselves, but severe or recurring cases require medical treatment. Options include lancing and draining the boil, and antibiotics. Boils are usually caused by a type of bacteria known as staphylococcus , which enter the skin through pores or small wounds. The first sign of the infection is a sensitive lump under the skin. The swelling spreads and the area becomes red, painful, and warm to the touch. Gradually its center, or core, softens and liquefies as pus forms. Within a few days the pus forces itself to the surface, forming a yellowish tip, or head. When the tip ruptures, pus is released, and the pain caused by the swelling and pressure is relieved. The infection may continue to drain for several days, and complete healing may take from several days to several weeks depending on the size of the boil.

A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. A boil is a deep form of bacterial folliculitis ; superficial folliculitis is sometimes present at the same time. Staphylococcus aureus can be cultured from the skin lesions. If there are multiple heads, the lesion is called a ‘carbuncle'. Large boils form abscesses, defined as an accumulation of pus within a cavity. Cellulitis may also occur, i.e. infection of the surrounding tissues, and this may cause fever and illness. A boil starts out suddenly as a red, painful lump. Usually within 24 hours, the lump fills with pus and takes on a round appearance with a yellow-white tip. There may be swelling around the boil as well as swelling of any lymph nodes near the boil. Lymph nodes are located in the neck, armpit, and groin area. Boils may take from 10 to 25 days to heal. In most cases, a boil will not heal until it bursts and drains. This can take as long as 2 weeks. A single boil can usually be cared for at home and does not require a trip to a doctor. Since releasing the pus in a boil can lead to more infection, puncturing it at home is not advised.

Causes of Boils

Common causes and risk factor's of Boils include the following : -

  • Plugged sweat gland or oil duct .
  • The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Ingrown hair.
  • Splinter or other foreign material that has become lodged in the skin.
  • Result of a splinter or other foreign material that gets lodged in the skin.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Diabetes.
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals.

Symptoms of Boils

Some common Symptoms of Boils :-

  • Skin lump or bump that is red, swollen, and tender.
  • A fever develops.
  • Lymph nodes become swollen.
  • More boils may appear around the original one.
  • Pus in the center of the boil.
  • Whitish, bloody discharge from the boil.

Treatment of Boils

  • Topical antibiotics (for folliculitis) .
  • Oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics (to treat the infection).
  • For carbuncles and boils, a warm compress may be used to help promote drainage of the lesion.
  • Use of antiseptic shampoos and soaps.
  • Antibiotic creams applied to the nasal membranes, because S. aureus commonly inhabits the nose.
  • Checking for underlying disorders, such as diabetes.
  • In some cases, other members of the household will need similar treatment, since S. aureus is contagious.








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