The average physician would tell you that a boil is the result of a bacterial infection of the sweat gland or a hair follicle. They’ll tell you that the cause of this infection is a pore or a follicle being blocked by deceased skin cells as well as other materials. Boils are prevalent in the [...]
A boil is a hard, red, very painful infection affecting a localized group of hair follicles (a complication of folliculitis), that is caused by staphylococcus bacteria. It commonly develops under the arms, on the face, on the scalp, on the inner sides of the thighs, and on the buttocks. As the boil enlarges, a core forms, the surface skin softens and then ruptures, allowing the pus within to escape. A boil that develops on the eyelid is called a sty.
Do not pick or squeeze boils (or pimples), as this may force the germs into surrounding tissues or into the bloodstream (septicemia). This is especially true of boils forming in the area between the nose, upper lip, cheek, and eyebrow, and inside the nostril, as the infection may travel to the brain.
When a number of boils develop in the deep layers of the skin adjacent to one another, the lesion is called a carbuncle. Often accompanied with fever, carbuncles have multiple heads and are commonly seen on the back of the neck, back, and thighs.
Things you can do
The same principles of treatment apply to boils as to folliculitis. Warm, moist compresses (several layers of gauze wrung out of hot water) applied several times a day will hasten the boil’s coming to a head and discharging its contents.
What to expect from your physician
Your physician may decide to open (lance) the boil rather than allowing it to rupture by itself. Should the boil persist, he may prescribe a suitable antibiotic. He will also determine if some underlying problem, such as diabetes, obesity, or anemia may be a contributing factor.