A boil or furuncle are fungal or bacterial infections involving the hair follicles. The diseased hair follicle can be on any region in the body. Once a hair follicle becomes infected, the skin that borders it becomes inflamed. It appears as a reddened, elevated bump on the skin that can break open and drain fluid. They are usually found on the neck and the face or even in the buttocks or thigh.
Indications of a boil
A boil usually starts as a benign bump on the skin that is similar to a pimple. Nevertheless, as the infection progresses, the boil turns hard and sore. The bacteria and dead skin cells might accumulate beneath the skin which leads to the formation of pus. As the pressure builds up, it causes the boil to break open and drain the fluid.
The pain is typically worst right before it ruptures and likely to improve once it drains. The boils vary in size from a pea or as big as a golf ball. The skin that borders the infected hair follicle can turn red, swollen and tender. It is also likely for scarring to occur as well.
The development of several boils in the same area is called as a carbuncle. These are capable of causing fever and chills. Remember that these symptoms are uncommon with a single lump.
What are the possible causes?
Any form of bacteria can cause a boil to develop. The most prevalent bacterium is Staphylococcus aureus which is why they are also called as staph infections. The bacterium is already present on the skin and only causes an infection once it enters the bloodstream via a cut or scratch.
An individual is likely to end up with one if the immune system is weakened or there is an underlying medical condition that slows down the healing process.
A boil does not require treatment unless it grows too large, does not rupture or becomes very painful for more than 2 weeks. In most cases, it will eventually drain and start to heal within this time frame.
The treatment for persistent boils generally involves measures to promote drainage and healing. The application of a warm compress can hasten the rupturing of a boil. Simply apply a warm, moist compress throughout the day to promote drainage. Continue with the application until the boil has ruptured. Always wash hands and the site of the boil carefully using warm water and antibacterial soap to prevent the spread of the staph bacteria to other parts of the body.
A doctor should be consulted if a boil stays intact or if there is intense pain after a couple of weeks. Antibiotics might be needed to clear up the infection. The doctor might also decide to manually drain the bump using sterile instruments.