A boil is a large infection of a hair follicle, the tiny opening in the skin from which a hair grows. Boils are due to an invasion of bacteria that enter the follicle and cause a bacterial infection of the follicle and nearby skin. Boils are also called skin abscesses or furuncles.
Boils are most commonly due to an infection of the bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus. The body tries to attack the bacterial infection by sending a surge of white blood cells (infection fighting cells) to the infected follicle. If the infection isn't stopped quickly, living and dead white blood cells, fluid, bacteria, and dead tissue collect within the infected follicle and form a deep pocket of pus. The surrounding tissue also becomes inflamed and painful.
Boils are often caused by poor hygiene or diseases and conditions that cause a weakened immune system or a low resistance to infection. A boil can also be a complication of folliculitis. Symptoms of a boil include swelling or a reddened lump that develops in the skin. The swelling eventually emerges to the skin's surface and comes to a head of pus. In some cases a boil can lead to potentially serious complications, such as septicemia. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of boil.
Making a diagnosis of a boil begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A boil can generally be diagnosed based on symptoms and a physical exam. A culture and sensitivity test (C and S) may also be performed. This involves growing a sample of the drainage from the boil in the laboratory. This test determines the type of infectious organism causing the boil, as well as which antibiotic would be most effective in treating it.
If the boil is large or has lead to complications, such as cellulitis or septicemia, certain tests might be performed. These include a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a blood test that measures the numbers of different types of blood cells, including white blood cells (WBCs). Different types of WBCs increase in number in characteristic ways during an infectious or inflammatory process, such as cellulitis or sepsis. For people who have serious or recurring boils, other tests may be performed to determine underlying diseases or conditions that can increase the risk of developing boils, such as diabetes.
It is possible that a diagnosis of a boil can be missed or delayed because some symptoms, such as a skin lump and inflammation, are similar to symptoms of other diseases of conditions. For more information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic a boil, refer to misdiagnosis of boil.
Treatment of a boil varies depending on the severity of the boil and other factors. Treatment may include medications and possibly an incision and drainage procedure. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of boil. ...more »
Boil: Infected puseous hair follicle on the skin.
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Symptoms of a boil include a lump or swelling that forms under the skin. The lump and nearby area is also painful, swollen, red, and inflamed and can feel hot to the touch. The swelling or lump eventually pushes to the skin's surface and comes to a head of pus. Boils can burst and drain on their own, which relieves the pain and begins the healing process. However, ...more symptoms »
The first step in treating boils is preventing their occurrence. Prevention includes maintaining good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing and washing the body with soap and water. Although boils can rupture and go away on their own in generally healthy people, it is a good idea to report any symptoms of a boil to your licensed health care provider. ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of a boil may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as a skin lump, mimic symptoms of other diseases and conditions. These include acne, rosacea, folliculitis, impetigo, and sebaceous cyst. ...more misdiagnosis »
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Definitions of Boil:
An infection of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue that consists of a cluster of boils. Commonly, the causative agent is STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS. Carbuncles produce fever, leukocytosis, extreme pain, and prostration.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
A painful sore with a hard pus-filled core
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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