What causes a boil?

A boil, or abscess, begins as an infection in a hair follicle or oil gland. The infection is caused by bacteria that normally live on your skin or that enter your skin through a cut. Boils most often appear on your face, shoulders, neck, armpits, and buttocks.

When the infection first appears, your skin turns red and a lump develops. After several days, pus collects under your skin, enlarging the lump and making it turn white.

If the infection spreads deeper under your skin, an abscess forms. In some patients, several boils appear together, causing a more serious infection that’s called a carbuncle. Your risk of developing a boil may be higher if you have diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, poor hygiene or a weak immune system or if you smoke.

What symptoms develop if I have a boil?

In addition to the appearance of a painful, pus-filled lump, you may experience red, swollen skin around the boil, have a fever, or develop swollen lymph nodes near the boil. In some cases, pus may leak out of the boil.

An active boil is contagious through skin-to-skin contact or by sharing objects. You may avoid spreading the infection to others by covering it with a bandage and frequently washing your hands.

Treatment of a boil

Dr. Paracha treats boils or abscesses and provides ongoing care to ensure the infection clears away and doesn’t cause an infection elsewhere in your body.

Dr. Paracha will apply a local anesthetic, makes a small incision, and then drain the infected material out of the boil or carbuncle. If the infection is too deep he may pack the area with a specialized dressing to soak up the remaining fluids.

You may also need to take antibiotics to heal severe infections or to stop recurring boils and abscesses. Additionally, he may order blood tests if they have any concerns about the infection spreading.

If you develop a painful boil, don’t wait to get treatment. Call us for an urgent evaluation.

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