Boils are certainly not attractive, and nobody enjoys having one, but unfortunately, they are a part of life; even worse, they can be very painful and cause permanent scarring. Boils commonly appear on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, buttocks, and eyelid (except a boil on the eyelid is technically called a sty); a boil is simply a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. the skin turns red first in the infected area, and then a tender lump forms. In 4-7 days, pus collects under the skin and the lump turns white. This pus is actually a collection of white blood cells that flood the area in an effort to get rid of the infection.
Types of BoilsLet me first explain one definition. An abscess is simply a collection of pus within tissue. A boil essentially turns into an abscess. there are four different types of boils—cystic acne, carbuncle, hidradenitis suppurativa, and a pilonidal cyst. Yes, they all sound very complicated, but they really aren’t because they are basically collections of boils in different areas of the body.
Cystic Acne. This infection occurs when oil ducts become clogged (most commonly on the face), which leads to an infection. This type of acne affects deeper layers of the skin than the superficial infection that comes with common acne.
Carbuncle. This happens when a group of boils occur in the same place, and they often recur.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa. This type of infection is caused by a group of boils in the armpit or groin area. They are due to a local inflammation of the sweat glands.
Pilonidal Cyst. Occuring in the creases of the buttocks, this type of boil starts with hair follicles that become infected. They can get irritated with sitting or direct pressure on or against the area.
CausesTypically, a germ is responsible for the formation of a boil; this germ is referred to as staphylococcal bacteria. These bacteria can enter the body through any cut, no matter how tiny, and it makes its way to an area to cause infection. those with Diabetes, immune system problems, poor hygiene and/or poor nutrition, and those who are exposed to harsh chemicals that cause skin irritation are at a greater risk of developing boils.
SymptomsBoils are very easy to recognize and diagnose. They always start as a hard, red, painful lump, but are no larger than an inch in size; at this point the area may feel warm. Additional boils may appear around this first one. after a few days of these symptoms, the area will become softer, larger, and more painful. A fever might develop; it is the body’s way of fighting an infection. next, a pocket of pus will be present on the top area of the boil. Lymph nodes will probably become swollen sometime during the week that the boil lasts.
TreatmentThere are different ways to reduce the symptoms of boils and to help them disappear faster; there are methods to do in the home and also treatments that can be performed by a doctor.
Home Remedies: Apply a warm compress or soak the boil in warm water to decrease pain and draw the pus to the surface; it should burst on its own after a few soaks. another option: when the pus starts to drain, wash it with an antibacterial soap until all the pus is gone; apply a medicated ointment and some type of bandage to the area. do this 2 or 3 times a day with warm compresses until the wound heals. Whatever you do, don’t pop the boil with a needle because it will make the infection worse.
Lancing: This is done in a doctor’s office; the pus will be drained more efficiently, allowing for a quicker recovery time, and the whole thing will leave less scarring. It is necessary to wait until the head of pus appears before this process can be done. In other words, the boil has to be ripened. This sounds kind of gross, but it is necessary so the pus can be pierced with a lancet; the pus will then be drained and the area completely cleaned. Gauze will be put in if it is not completely drained.
Medication: Medications can be bought over-the-counter, or in some cases, prescribed by a doctor. Usually, the over-the-counter ones are topical creams. Antibiotics can be prescribed so healing can happen more quickly; however, antibiotic resistance can become a problem here.