What are Boils?
Bacterial infections, or the inflammation of one or more hair follicles, can result in the formation of a boil. They are usually painful and can be quite distressing, especially if they are recurring. A boil generally starts off as an inconspicuous pink and tender bump localized to one area. This soon develops into a firm, hard, inflamed lump that is filled with bacteria-fighting white blood cells and dead skin tissue (pus).
The affected area usually gets larger and more painful until the boil bursts and the pus is able to drain. While some boils disappear within a few days, many can take up to two weeks to heal, which can be very painful and frustrating.
What are the Symptoms of Boils?
What to Expect
Symptoms and appearance of boils may include:
Infected hair follicle
Boil on skin
Painful red skin swelling/lump
Local lymph node swelling
Pus head appears on the boil
Where do Boils Appear?
Boils can occur anywhere on the skin, although they tend to develop on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, or thighs. They also occur most frequently in areas containing hair and/or sweat glands, or in areas where chafing or recurrent friction occurs, thus a major cause of skin boils. In some cases, boils can occur in interconnected clusters called carbuncles. In severe cases, they can develop into abscesses.
While anyone can develop boils and carbuncles, people who have diabetes, a suppressed immune system, poor hygiene, acne, or other skin problems are at a higher risk.
Types of Boils
Some examples of boils include:
Furuncle or carbuncle
Location of Boils on Body
Boils may be found on various parts of the body, including:
Legs, Knees and Feet
Face and/or Chin
Anal, anus, and overall rectal area
Pubic, Anorectal and/or groin area
Hands and Palms
Armpit and underarm area
Buttocks and upper thighs
Gums, tonsils, throat, other parts of the mouth
Vagina and labia
Penis and scrotum
What Causes Boils?
The main cause of skin boils is generally due to an infection of a hair follicle. This can occur for a number of different reasons.
Contributing Causes of Boils
Malnutrition (Vitamin A or E deficiency in particular)
Blocked sweat glands that become infected
Immune Problems & Disorders
Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
An ingrown hair
A splinter or other piece of foreign material that has penetrated the skin
Most boils can be adequately treated at home, and usually run their course and heal without medical attention. However, in some cases, you may need to visit a general health practitioner to avoid complications. Your doctor will simply examine the affected area to confirm diagnosis and generally no other diagnostic tests are necessary. Skin boil treatment is generally simple and can be managed at home.