Boils and carbuncles are bacterial infections of hair follicles that surround the skin with small blister-like swellings containing pus. Boils are sometimes called furuncles. When several furuncles merge to form a single deep abscess with several heads or drainage points a carbuncle is formed.
Commonly boils occur in teenagers and young adults. Skin boils can be quite painful, in places where the skin is closely attached to the underlying tissues, such as the ears, nose, or fingers. They are localized, inflamed, tender, pus-filled swellings in the skin surrounded by large red areas. Boils can appear anywhere on the body but generally they appear on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks or thighs.
Boils usually start as red, tender lumps they quickly grow lager being filled with pus; they get more painful and eventually rupture and drain. Sometimes a boil can disappear in a few days time; else it might take a couple of weeks to heal. While anyone may develop boils, it is usually people who have diabetes, or a suppressed immune system, or acne or other skin problems that are at increased risk. Small boils usually heal without scarring, but a large boil may leave a scar.
So what causes boils? Boil are caused when one or more hair follicles become infected with staph bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for a number of major hospital-acquired infections and food-borne illnesses and serious diseases, including meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and endocarditis an infection of the lining of your heart.
Staph bacteria generally enter through a break, cut or scratch in your skin. As soon as this occurs, specialized white blood cells called neutrophils fight the infection leading to inflammation and the formation of pus.
Treatment for boils at Home is simple. Gentle heat provided by a moist, warm cloth held over the area for 15-20 minutes three times a day, will speed up the healing process. Using antibiotic ointment on the boil will not will not necessary cure it because the medicine will not penetrate the infected skin.
To keep the germs from spreading one must cover the boil with a small bandage. It is strongly advised not to squeeze or lance the boil as this will only cause the germs to spread and will not hasten the healing process. You can also prevent boils by thoroughly cleaning small cuts and scrapes by washing with soap and water and applying an antibiotic ointment.
Avoid Body tight clothing as they cause perspiration that leads to boils. Doctors treating boils may drain a large boil or carbuncle by making a small incision in the tip. This relieves pain, speeds recovery and helps lessen scarring.