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Boils

What is a Boil?

A boil is a localized infection deep in the skin. They begin as red, tender swellings, which may later ooze pus. Some people have recurrent boils.

A boil is also called a skin abscess.

What causes a Boil?

There are many causes of boils. Some common causes are:

  • ingrown hair
  • splinter or other foreign material that has become lodged in the skin
  • plugged sweat glands that become infected

Symptoms of a Boil

There are many different symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of having a boil are:

Types of Boils

There are several different types of boils. The most common types are:

  • Furuncle
    • A furuncle is is an abscess in the skin caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.
    • A furuncle can have one or more openings onto the skin.
    • A person with a furuncle may experience fever and/or chills.
    • A furuncle is also referred to as a carbuncle.
  • Cystic acne
    • Cystic acne occurs when oil ducts become clogged and infected.
    • Cystic acne affects deeper skin tissue that the more superficial inflammation from common acne.
    • Cystic acne is most common on the face and typically occurs in the teenage years.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa
    • Hidradenitis suppurativa is a condition where multiple abscesses form under the arm pits and/or the groin area. Hidradenitis suppurativa is caused by a local inflammation of the sweat glands.
    • Treatments for hidradenitis suppurativa include antibiotics and a surgical procedure to remove the sweat glands in order to stop the skin inflammation from reoccurring.
  • Pilonidal cyst
    • Pilonidal cyst is a kind of abscess that occurs in the crease of the buttocks.
    • Pilonidal cysts often begin as tiny areas of infection in the base of the area of skin from which hair grows (the hair follicle).
    • Pilonidal cysts often form after long trips that involve prolonged sitting.

How are Boils Treated?

Boils can be treated with antibiotics, hot packs and draining the abscess.

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