A boil or carbuncle is a group of red, swollen, and painful lumps that are connected to each other under the skin. One boil is called furuncle, which is an infection of the hair follicle which has a collection of pus or abscess under the skin. Usually a single boil occurs most often in hairy areas of the body such as the back or nape. But boils can also develop in other areas of the body such as the buttocks, thighs, groin, and armpits.
Most boils are caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which inhabits the surface of the skin, throat and nose. This bacterium can cause infection by entering the skin through hair follicles, small eroded wounds, or puncture wounds, although sometimes there is no clear point on how the bacteria enter.
Ulcers contain pus, a mixture of old cells and white blood, bacteria, and dead skin cells, so to heal, boils need to be cleaned first of their contents. Boils are more likely to leave scars.
Active large boils are contagious, infections can spread to other parts of a person’s body or to other people through skin contact or sharing personal items. So it is important to practice proper self-care steps, such as keeping parts of the body clean and closed, until the contents of the boil come out and heal.
Boils require medical treatment to prevent or manage complications, speed healing, and minimize scarring. Contact your doctor if you have boils that have “matured” that have lasted for more than a few days.
Causes of Boils
There are many causes of boils. Some boils can be caused by ingrown hairs. Boils can also form due to clogged pores or other foreign material that has become stuck in the skin. Other causes of boils, such as acne, are caused by clogged sweat glands that become infected. Often the exact cause of a boil cannot be determined.
The skin is an important part of the body’s immune defense against objects and microbes that are foreign to our body. Injuries to the skin, such as wounds, skin scrapes or blisters, can develop into abscesses if exposed to bacteria.
Risk Factors for Boils
Older age, obesity, poor hygiene, and overall poor physical health are associated with ulcers. Other risk factors for carbuncles include:
- Chronic skin condition, which damages the protective skin
- Kidney illness
- Liver disease
- Conditions or treatments that weaken the immune system, such as cancer, chemotherapy, and so on.