Boils - Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Boils - Symptoms, causes and treatment
Boils - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Boils or furuncles are red bumps on the skin that are filled with pus and are painful. This condition is most often caused by a bacterial infection that triggers inflammation of the hair follicle, which is where hair grows

The parts of the body that are most often affected by boils are the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and groin. Boils can also sometimes appear in the pubic area. This happens because these parts often experience friction and sweat. Boils can also grow on the eyelids, which is known as a stye.


Usually, small boils will heal within 2 weeks with proper treatment. However, if the boils that appear get worse and cause other disturbing complaints, treatment needs to be done to prevent the condition from getting worse and complications arise.

The Cause of Boils

The main cause of boils is Staphylococcus aureus bacterial infection of the hair follicles. In some people, the bacteria can be found on the skin and in the lining of the nose without causing any problems. A new infection will occur if bacteria enter the hair follicle due to a scratch or insect bite.

Some of the factors that are thought to increase a person's risk of developing boils are:

  • Making direct contact with ulcer sufferers, for example because they live at home
  • Has a weak immune system, for example because of HIV, undergoing chemotherapy, or suffering from diabetes
  • Experiencing skin problems, such as acne, eczema, or scabies skin
  • Not maintaining cleanliness, both personal and environmental hygiene
  • Not meeting the nutritional needs of the body properly or suffering from obesity
  • Exposure to harmful chemical compounds that can cause skin irritation

In addition to the various causes above, many people think that egg consumption can also cause ulcers. However, this has not been proven true and still needs to be investigated further.

Bullet Symptoms

Boils can appear on any part of the body that is covered with hair or fur, including inside the ear. However, boils generally grow on parts of the body that often experience friction and sweating, such as the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, buttocks, groin, and thighs.

Boils can also sometimes appear on the breast. This condition usually occurs in breastfeeding mothers. However, women who are not breastfeeding can also develop breast ulcers.

When you have a boil, a pus-filled lump will appear on the skin, which is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Red bumps filled with pus appear which are small at first, but can get bigger
  • The skin around the bump will appear red, swollen, and feel warm to the touch
  • Bumps that arise will be painful, especially when touched
  • Bumps have white or yellow dots at the top (pustules) which will then burst and ooze pus

Please note, there is only one lump that appears when you get a boil. If it occurs in large numbers and gathers together, this condition is called a coir ulcer or carbuncle.

Carbuncles indicate a more serious infection. This condition is more often found in middle-aged people who have weak immune systems.

When to see a doctor

Generally, boils will heal on their own if they are small. However, immediately go to the doctor if the boil gets worse or if:

  • Accompanied by fever, unwell, chills, dizziness, or swollen lymph nodes
  • Gets worse quickly and is accompanied by severe pain
  • Get bigger after previous self-medication
  • Grows up as pimples inside the nose, on the face, ears, or back
  • Grow more than one fruit in the same location or form a carbuncle
  • Not getting better after more than 14 days
  • Recurrence (recurrence)
  • Experienced by people with impaired immune system

Boil Diagnosis

To diagnose boils, the doctor will ask questions related to the complaints experienced, then proceed with an examination of the skin that has ulcers.

Boils can usually be recognized easily through direct observation. However, if needed, the doctor will take a sample of the patient's pus, skin, or blood, to be examined in a laboratory. Generally, this follow-up check will be carried out if:

  • Boils do not heal after treatment or occur repeatedly (relapse)
  • Boils arise in large numbers and gather or carbuncle
  • Patients have a weak immune system or suffer from certain diseases, such as diabetes

A bacterial culture test can also be done to determine which type of antibiotic is suitable for treating boils. This is because the bacteria that cause ulcers often have become resistant to certain types of antibiotics.

Boils Treatment

Boils that are small, one in number, and not accompanied by other diseases can usually be treated at home. Some simple ways that can be done to treat boils are:

  • Compressing boils with warm water for 10 minutes 4 times a day, to reduce pain while encouraging pus to collect at the top of the lump
  • Clean the boil that bursts with sterile gauze and anti-bacterial soap, then cover the boil with sterile gauze
  • Change the bandage as often as possible, for example 2-3 times a day
  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after treating boils

It's important to remember, don't pop the boil on purpose, as this can only make the infection worse and spread bacteria, but wait for the boil to burst on its own. If the pain is bothersome, the patient can take pain relievers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If boils grow in groups and form carbuncles, do not heal after self-treatment, or the patient has a weak immune system, it is recommended that you immediately consult a doctor for further treatment.

To treat boils, one of the treatment options that will be carried out is surgery. A surgical procedure is performed to make an incision in the boil and create a channel to drain the pus.

Doctors can also prescribe antibiotics to treat infections, such as erythromycin or clindamycin. Keep in mind, the use of antibiotics must be in accordance with a doctor's prescription. Do not change, reduce, or stop using antibiotics prematurely even if the symptoms have decreased.

Boil Complications

In most cases, boils rarely cause serious complications. However, some complications that can occur due to boils are:

  • The appearance of scar tissue
  • Recurrent boils (recurrence)
  • Spread of infection to deeper layers of the skin (cellulitis)
  • spread of infection into the bloodstream (sepsis)
  • Spread of infection to other organs of the body, such as to the heart (endocarditis), bones (osteomyelitis), brain (meningitis), or spinal cord

Bullet Prevention

Boils can be prevented by maintaining personal hygiene. Here are some ways that can be applied:

  • Bath and wash hands regularly with soap and running water
  • Cleaning and caring for wounds properly, if there are scratches, lacerations, or cuts.
  • Do not share the use of personal items with others, such as towels, razors, or clothes
  • Exercise regularly and eat he althy food to increase endurance
  • Avoid direct contact with people with skin infections

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