Boils – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is a boil?
Boils, also called furuncles or carbuncles, are red-colored bumps on your skin. Boils are caused by bacterial infection. This infection generally affects groups of hair follicles and nearby skin tissue. After some days, boils cause pain due to the formation of pus inside them.
Boils can form in the hair follicles anywhere on the body. They are most common on the face, neck, armpit, buttocks, and thighs.
What causes a boil?
Boils are mostly caused by the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Other types of bacteria or fungi found on the skin’s surface can also cause boils. Breakdown of the hair follicles allows the infection to grow deeper into the follicles and the tissues under them.
What are the symptoms of a boil?
The main symptom of a boil is a tender, pinkish-red, and swollen bump on a firm area of the skin. Over a period of time, it may feel like a water-filled balloon or cyst. Pain increases as it fills with pus and dead tissue. Pain decreases when the boil drains. A boil may drain on its own, but mostly, a boil needs to be opened to drain.
The following are the main symptoms of a boil:
- A bump about the size of a pea, but may be as large as a golf ball
- White or yellow center (pustules)
- May spread to other skin areas or join with other boils
- Grows very quickly
- Weeping, oozing, or crusting
The following are the other symptoms:
- Skin redness around the boil
- Itching before the boil develops
- General ill feeling
How is a boil diagnosed?
A doctor can easily diagnose a boil based on how it looks. The doctor may send a sample of cells from the boil to the lab for a culture to look for staphylococcus or other bacteria.
How is a boil treated?
Boils usually heal on their own after a period of itching and mild pain. Boils generally heal in about two weeks after they open and drain the pus. You can speed up draining and healing by putting warm, moist, compresses on the boil several times a day. Continue putting warm, wet, compresses on the area after the boil opens and drains.
Your doctor may do surgery to drain a deep or large boil if it lasts longer than two weeks. The doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or a shot if the boil is very bad.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.