Boils are caused by bacteria building up in a hair follicle and pushing up to the surface of the skin
A boil is a skin infection that starts in your hair follicle or oil gland. At first, your skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops.
Then after four to seven days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin. What causes boils? We’ll get to that in a minute.
The most common places for boils to appear are on your face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. When one forms on the eyelid, it is called a sty.
If several boils appear in a group, this is a more serious type of infection called a carbuncle.
What Causes Boils To Appear On My Skin?
Most boils are caused by a germ (staphylococcal bacteria). This germ enters your body through tiny nicks or cuts in the skin or can travel down the hair to the follicle.
These health problems make you more susceptible to skin infections. Sometimes, they can be what causes boils. See them below:
Problems with the immune system
Exposure to harsh chemicals that irritate the skin
What Are The Symptoms of Boils?
A boil starts as a hard, red, painful lump usually about half an inch in size. Over the next few days, you’ll notice the lump becomes softer, larger, and more painful. Soon a pocket of pus forms on the top of the boil. These are the signs of a severe infection:
The skin around the boil becomes infected. It turns red, painful, warm, and swollen.
More boils may appear around the original one.
A fever may develop.
Your lymph nodes may become swollen.
What Causes Boils? When to Seek Medical Care
Visit your doctor once you notice any of the following:
You start running a fever.
You have swollen lymph nodes.
The skin around the boil turns red or red streaks appear.
The pain becomes severe.
The boil does not drain.
A second boil appears.
You have a heart murmur, diabetes, or any problem with your immune system; or maybe you use immune-suppressing drugs (for example, corticosteroids) and you develop a boil.
Boils usually do not need immediate emergency attention. However, if you are in poor health and you develop high fever and chills along with the infection, you need to make a trip to a hospital’s emergency room.
Home Remedies for Boils
Apply warm compresses and soak the boil in warm water. This will decrease the pain and help draw the pus to the surface. Once the boil comes to a head, it will burst with repeated soakings. This usually occurs within 10 days of its appearance. You can make a warm compress by soaking a washcloth in warm water and squeezing out the excess moisture.
When the boil starts draining, wash it with an antibacterial soap until all the pus is gone and clean with rubbing alcohol. Apply a medicated ointment (topical antibiotic) and a bandage. Continue to wash the infected area two to three times a day and to use warm compresses until the wound heals.
Do not pop the boil with a needle. This could make the infection worse.
Medical Treatment for Boils
If the doctor is concerned about the seriousness of your infection, he will perform additional blood tests. Also, he may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe. If the boil is drained, he may perform a culture to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection; and to assess if you got an appropriate antibiotic.
Whether the boil is drained at home or is lanced by a doctor, you will need to clean the infected area two to three times a day until the wound is healed. Apply an antibiotic ointment after washing and cover with a bandage. If the area turns red or looks as if it is getting infected again, contact your doctor.
What Causes Boils: Preventive Measures
Help prevent boils by following these guidelines:
Carefully wash clothes, bedding, and towels of a family member who is infected with boils.
Clean and treat minor skin wounds.
Practice good personal hygiene.
Stay as healthy as possible.
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