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Boil Causes

Furuncles are generally caused by an infection of the hair follicles by Staphylococcus aureus or Staphylococcus epidermidis. This is a strain of bacteria that normally lives on the surface of the skin. It has been suggested that a tiny cut on the skin allows this bacterium to enter the follicles and cause an infection. This can occur while bathing or when using a razor. Boils may also be brought about by other bacteria or fungi. People with immune system disorders, diabetes, poor hygiene or malnutrition are particularly susceptible to developing boils; they, however, also occur in healthy, hygienic individuals due to over scratching a particular area of the skin. Hidradenitis suppurativa causes frequent boils, and boils found in the armpits can sometimes be caused by anti-perspirant deodorants. The development of boils throughout the body may also be a symptom of smallpox.

Boil Definition

Boil (or furuncle) is a skin disease brought about by the inflammation of hair follicles, resulting in the localized accumulation of pus and dead tissue. Individual boils can group together and form an interconnected network of boils called carbuncles. In severe cases, boils may develop to form in what is known as abscesses.

Boil Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of boils are red, pus-filled lumps that are tender to the touch, warm, and painful. A yellow or white point at the center of the lump can be seen when the boil is ready to discharge pus. In severe infections, multiple boils may develop all over and the patient may experience fever and swollen lymph nodes. Recurring boils are called chronic furunculosis. In some people, itching may develop on the area before the lumps begin to develop. Boils are often found on the back, underarms, shoulders, face, lip, eyes, nose, thighs and buttocks, but they may be found elsewhere. Boils on the ear tend to be more painful than elsewhere, and can create extreme pain in the entire area when touched. Sometimes, boils will emit an unpleasant smell, particularly when it is drained or when discharge is present. This is due to the presence of bacteria in the discharge.

Boil Treatment

Boils may heal by themselves after an initial period of itching and mild pain. More often, they progress to pustules that become increasingly uncomfortable as pus collects. They finally burst, drain, then heal spontaneously. Boils usually drain before they will heal. This often occurs in less than 2 weeks. Boils that persist longer than 2 weeks, recuur, are located on the spine or the middle of the face, or that are accompanied by fever or other symptoms may require treatment by a health care provider because of the risk of complications from the spread of infection.

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