Are you confused about Boils? For someone who has suffered the ignominy inflicted by these crazy bumps for almost forever, I couldn’t help but feel the stigma attached to it. But for most part of my life I never really understood the why and what of boils; ‘Why’ did the boils happen to me and ‘What’ could I do to take care of them. So here I am dissecting these bumps.
What are boils? To understand why boils happen, we must know what boils are. The simplest definition of a skin boil is a severe skin infection that generates deep within the skin’s surface. This localized skin infection starts off as a painful, red area which goes through different stages. The red and tender affected area becomes firm, hard and tender. Once the immune system kicks in, the affected area starts filling up with white blood cells to fight the infection. As this war wages, the affected area fills up with pus. Pus is the collection of white blood cells, protein and bacteria. Finally, a ‘head’ appears on this pus filled boil which sometimes drains out by itself through the skin surface or needs to be surgically drained out. Here are the different types of boils one can encounter-
Cystic acne: Excess oil production leads to cystic acne. This condition is caused when an oil duct gets blocked and infected. This type of acne is different from the other acne types as it affects deeper levels of the skin tissue.
Furuncle or Carbuncle: This skin condition is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. A furuncle normally has many openings to the skin and can be accompanied by fever and chills. A carbuncle is a type of abscess which involves a group of hair follicles.
Hidradenitis Supparativa: This condition is determined by a group of boils or abscesses which occur in the groin or armpit and is caused by the localized inflammation of sweat glands. Antibiotics alone cannot treat this condition and it is often accompanied by a surgical procedure.
Pilonidal Cysts: This embarrassing abscess occurs in the crease of the buttocks starting off as a tiny infected area. Constant irritation and pressure cause this situation to aggravate and morph into large, hard and painful nodules.
What causes them? Most boils are a result of a naughty ingrown hair. Other reasons could be any foreign body or particle such as a splinter housing itself in the skin causing it to get irritated and angry. Other boils occur when sweat glands get clogged.
Boils are self invited guests and can affect anyone. However certain people who have low immune systems are more at risk of getting boils. Illnesses and medications lower the immune system and make a person more susceptible to boils.
What is the treatment? The most effective treatment for boils begins at home. Apply a heat pack or a hot soak to the affected area which will increase blood circulation and improve the situation. If a boil forms a head, it is ready to be drained. This can be done with the heat pack at home. If it is a large boil, surgical intervention might be required and the boil will need to be drained by a medical practitioner. If your boils are recurring frequently then it is best that you head to your health care practitioner for a full evaluation as it could signal an underlying health issue.
How do you treat boils? Write in and let us know.