According to Zsazsa Galore, Staph bacteria that cause boils generally enter through a cut, scratch or other break in your skin. As soon as this occurs, specialized white blood cells called neutrophils rush to the site to fight the infection. This leads to inflammation and eventually to the formation of pus, a mixture of old white blood cells, bacteria and dead skin cells.
According to MayoClinic.com, Boils (furuncles) usually start as red, tender lumps. The lumps quickly fill with pus, growing larger and more painful until they rupture and drain. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that form a connected area of infection under the skin.
Factors can increase your risk on having Boils:
- Poor general health. Having chronic poor health makes it harder for your immune system to fight infections.
- Diabetes. This disease can make it more difficult for your body to fight infection, including bacterial infections of your skin.
- Clothing that binds or chafes. The constant irritation from tight clothing can cause breaks in your skin, making it easier for bacteria to enter your body.
- Other skin conditions. Because they damage your skin's protective barrier, skin problems, such as acne and dermatitis, make you more susceptible.
- Immune-suppressing medications. Long-term use of corticosteroids, such as predestine or other drugs that suppress your immune system, can increase your risk.
- Skin lesions
- Small firm tender red nodule in skin
- Usually pea-sized, may occasionally be as large as a golf ball
- Pink or red Swollen skin, tender, mildly to moderately painful
- It grows rapidly and develop white or yellow centers or pustules
Boil prevention is not always possible, if you have a compromised immune system.
- Thoroughly clean even small cuts and scrapes. Wash well with soap and water and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
- Avoid constricting clothing.
- Good attention to hygiene
- Don't attempt to prick or squeeze it, that may spread the infection.
- Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the boils and cover with a square of gauze. Your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic.
- Avoid scratching and keeping the skin clean
- Warm moist compresses encourage furuncles to drain, for pain relief and possibly promote pus drainage. It will also speeds the healing. Gently soak the area with a warm, moist cloth several times each day. Deep or large lesions may need to be drained surgically by the health care provider.
How to treat boils?
- Apply hot compresses to the boil. As soon as you notice a boil beginning to form, you should begin treating with hot compresses. The sooner you begin treatment, the less likely it is that complications will occur. Make a hot compress by holding a clean wash cloth under hot water until wet, then squeeze out the excess moisture. Press the warm, damp cloth gently onto the boil for five to ten minutes. Repeat three to four times a day.
- The hot compress does several things to speed up the healing of a boil. Firstly, the warmth increases circulation to the area, helping to draw antibodies and white blood cells to the site of the infection. The heat also draws pus to the surface of the boil, encouraging it to drain faster. Lastly, the hot compress will help to relieve pain.
- Instead of a hot compress, you can also soak the boil in warm water, if it is on an area of the body where it's convenient to do so. For boils on the lower body, sitting in a hot bath can be helpful.
- Do not lance or burst the boil at home. As the surface of the boil softens and fills with pus, it may be tempting to burst the skin with a needle and drain the contents yourself. However, this is not recommended as it can cause the boil to become infected or the bacteria within the boil to spread, causing multiple boils. With continued application of hot compresses to the area, the boil should burst and drain by itself within about two weeks
- Wash the drained boil with antibacterial soap. Once the boil starts draining, it is very important that you keep the area clean. Wash the boil thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and warm water, until all of the pus has drained. Once clean, dry the boil with a clean towel or some paper towel, which should be washed or thrown away immediately after use, to avoid spreading the infection.
- Apply an antibacterial cream and dress the boil. Next, you should apply an antibacterial cream or ointment to the boil and cover it with a gauze dressing. The gauze will allow the boil to continue draining, so the dressing should be changed frequently. Antibacterial creams and ointments made specifically to deal with boils are available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy
- Continue applying hot compresses until the boil is fully healed. Once the boil has drained, you should continue to apply hot compresses, clean the area and dress the boil until it has fully healed. As long as you are conscientious about keeping the area clean, there should be no complications and the boil should heal completely within a week or two.
- Make sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap before and after touching the boil, to avoid spreading infection.
When will be the time to call or go to the Doctor?
- If you suffer from boils frequently. Blood tests can be done to see if you have an underlying condition that may be contributing to this problem. Typically, if your immune system is healthy, boils shouldn't be a problem.
- If a boil or carbuncle is extremely painful, lasts longer than two weeks or occurs with a fever
- If boils recur or are located on the face or spine.
- if the boil has not drained within two weeks, or has become infected
- If the boils are accompanied by a fever, red streaks oozing from the boil or redness and inflammation of the skin surrounding the boil. These are all signs of infection.
- If you suffer from a disease (such as cancer or diabetes) or are taking medication which weakens the immune system. In these cases, the body may not be able to fight off the infection causing the boil on its own.