A furuncle, commonly known as boil, is a form of skin infection of entire hail follicle and surrounding tissue. This condition is quite common. The culprit of the infection is mostly Staphyloccocus aureus, but other bacteria as well as fungi present on the skin may lead to the inflammation. Small injuries and damage of the hair follicle open the door for the bacteria which spread deep into the follicle and subcutaneous tissue. Boils can develop anywhere where follicles are present but they most commonly affect the skin of the face, neck, armpits, buttocks and thighs. If more than one furuncle occurs the state is known as furunculosis and if they merge they form carbuncle.
A furuncle starts as pink or reddish swollen nodule and after full development it looks like bubble filled with pus. Pain which is not so strong in the beginning slowly increases as pus ripens. When the pus starts to drain pain is starting to decrease but is still present. The furuncle may drain on its own or is induced by a small incision (doctor does this simple procedure). It is not common that patients open the furuncle on their own. The size of the furuncle varies a lot. It may be as big as a pea but can also develop up to a size of a golf ball. During the maturation of the pus it changes color from red to white and yellow. The pus drained from the furuncle may lead to development of another furuncle nearby. After bursting or opening the pus from the furuncle leaks and the furuncle eventually crusts. Additional symptoms include tiredness, rarely fever and itching on the skin where the furuncle is going to develop. Doctor sets the diagnosis based on the skin manifestations and he/ she takes samples of the pus in order to confirm the presence of bacteria.
The furuncle may heal without any treatment. But they usually lead to discomfort and patients do contact their doctors. The release of the pus happens either spontaneously or the doctor makes a small incision. The drainage processes occurs within few weeks after the onset. The more serious treatment is conducted in case of multiple furuncles, if it lasts longer than two weeks or if it is located on the face and in the middle of the spine. Even patients having the high temperatures are treated more seriously. This is because of potential complications. In order to accelerate the burst warm compressions are held on the furuncle. This is done several times a day. It is not recommendable for the boil to be squeezed or cut by unprofessional person. Extreme hygiene of the infected area must be maintained. This prevents the spread of the infection to the surrounding skin and tissue. After touching the furuncle one mush wash his/ her hands instantly. The usage of antibacterial soaps and topic antibiotics is preferable. But these cannot help much once the furuncle has developed. In case of recurrence systemic antibiotics may be helpful but they are prescribed only by the doctor.