ANATOMY of BOIL
Writer | Mitch Meñez
Boils are a common skin infection in hair follicles or oil glands that, left untreated, become swollen, painful, ugly pockets of pus. It is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. When hair follicles are damaged, this allows the infection to grow deeper into the follicle and the tissues under it. Since fair follicles are present in almost the entire body, boils can occur anywhere. The most common sites are on the face, armpit, neck, buttocks, and thighs. Boils can also be present singularly, or in numbers called a carbuncle. A sty is a boil on the eyelid. At the onset, a boil is tender, pinkish-red, and swollen and, over time, will feel like a cyst or a water-filled balloon. As it fills with pus and dead tissue the pain gets worse but can be lessened if opened and drained.
The main symptoms of a boil include:
– A bump about the size of a pea, but may be as large as a golf ball
– With a white or yellow center (pustules)
– Spreads to other skin areas or joins with other boils
– Quick growth
– Weeping, oozing, or crusting
The main treatments for a boil include hot packs and draining the boil when it is still soft (otherwise known as lancing). Antibiotics usually do not help in treating boils. Boils may heal on their own after a period of itching and mild pain. More often, they become more painful as pus builds up.
Tips to alleviate and remove a boil:
Put warm, moist, compress on the boil several times a day to speed draining and healing. Never squeeze a boil or try cut it open at home as this can spread the infection. Continue to put warm, wet, compress on the area after the boil opens. You may need to have surgery to drain deep or large boils.