Boil (small abscess)

Skin | Dermatology | Boil (small abscess) (Disease)


A boil, also called a furuncle is an inflamed, pus-filled area of skin, usually a deep folliculitis, infection of the hair follicle. A boil is also referred to as a skin abscess. It is most commonly caused by infection by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.

There are several different types of boils: furuncle or carbuncle, cystic acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, pilonidal cyst. Boils are bumpy red, pus-filled lumps around a hair follicle that are tender, warm, and very painful. They range from pea-sized to golf ball-sized. A yellow or white point at the center of the lump can be seen when the boil is ready to drain or discharge pus. In a severe infection, an individual may experience fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.

Causes and Risk factors

There are many causes of boils. Some boils can be caused by an ingrown hair. Others can form as the result of a splinter or other foreign material that has become lodged in the skin. Others boils, such as those of acne, are caused by plugged sweat glands that become infected.

Risk factors for furunculosis include bacterial carriage in the nostrils, diabetes mellitus, obesity, lymphoproliferative neoplasms, malnutrition, and use of immunosuppressive drugs.

The most common complications of boils are scarring and infection or abscess of the skin, spinal cord, brain, kidneys, or other organs. Infections may also spread to the bloodstream (sepsis) and become life-threatening.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment may be with antibiotic drugs but, if pus is released surgically, the boil will usually heal without antibiotics. ...

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