Infected hair follicles can be anywhere on the body, not necessarily limited to the scalp. When the hair follicle becomes infected, the skin around it also becomes inflamed.

A boil looks like a red bump on the skin, but it may eventually burst and ooze fluid.

Boils appear most often on the face and neck. Inflammation can also develop on the thighs or buttocks.

What are the symptoms?

A boil may start as a benign, zit-like, pimple-like appearance on the skin. As the infection deepens over time, the nodule may become painful and firm.

Subsequently, bacteria and dead skin cells can build up under the skin, forming pus. The pressure that is formed by the pus mass can cause the boil to burst and the infected fluid to drain from it.

The pain is usually strongest immediately before the boil bursts and after the discharge of the purulent liquid in most cases it weakens and gradually disappears.

The boils range in size from a small pea to the size of a golf ball.

The skin around infected hair follicles may become red, swollen and very hard. The appearance of scars subsequently is also possible.

The appearance of several boils in the same area of ​​the body is called a carbuncle, which can cause an increase in body temperature and chills. These symptoms are very rarely seen with only one boil.

What are the causes?

Any type of bacteria or fungus can cause a boil to appear.

The most common cause is the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. It is also possible that the inflammatory formation is due to a staphylococcal infection.

Every person has Staphylococcus aureus on the skin as part of its normal microflora.

The bacterium causes an infection only if it enters the bloodstream through an open wound, such as a cut or scratch.

Once the bacteria enters the blood, the immune system tries to destroy it. The boil is actually the result of an accumulation of white blood cells that are formed to remove the infection.

A person is also more likely to develop a boil if their immune system is compromised or if they have an illness that causes wounds to heal more slowly.

Diabetes and eczema (a chronic skin disease characterized by extremely dry and itchy skin) are two examples of chronic clinical conditions that contribute to an increased risk of boils.

The likelihood also increases if a person comesin direct contact with someone who has already acquired a staph infection.

Treatment of a boil

In most cases, no medical treatment is necessary unless the boil grows too large, becomes very painful, or does not burst for more than 2 weeks.

Usually by this time, the boil has already drained on its own and started to heal.

Treatment of stubborn boils usually consists of measures to stimulate drainage and healing.

Warm compresses can help speed up the bursting of the boil. A warm, moist compress should be applied throughout the day to facilitate draining of the boil.

It is necessary to continue the application of warm compresses to ensure and prevent infection of the wound after the boil has already ruptured.

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