Causes of Skin Boils
Skin boils, or skin abscesses, are painfully inflamed skin infections. A skin boil is a localized collection of bacteria and pus that swells into a reddish raised bump. It becomes firm to the touch as the white blood cells continue to work to break down the infection. The abscess may then become tender, leading to suppuration, or the formation of its head. It continues to swell until it can burst to drain the pus, or be opened to drain, by a doctor. There are many causes that lead to the formation of skin boils.
Boils may form in a hair follicle that becomes infected. Some ingrown hairs can also cause boils to form. They may also form in clogged pores or sweat glands that become a haven for bacterial growth. Boils may develop from a prick, splinter or cut that introduces bacteria into the dermis layer of the skin. When the skin is broken, it becomes vulnerable to infection.
The types of boils include cystic acne, which is an infected and clogged oil duct. A pilonidal cyst is formed in a hair follicle located in or near the rectum. Hidradenitis suppurativa present as a collection of boils that form around the genitals and in the armpits. A carbuncle is a boil that is caused by the microorganism, Staphylococcus aureus. Also known as a furuncle, a carbuncle may be accompanied with chills and/or fever.
Boils generally form on the skin of people whose immune system may be compromised, either by health conditions or prescribed medications. When the body is unable to adequately defend itself against harmful microbial growth, they may collect and reproduce exponentially, to form these abscesses within the skin.
Since some boils are associated with a bacterial infection, an antibiotic medication may be prescribed to break down the infection. Most boils are not difficult to relieve.
Applying hot packs or taking warm baths increases the blood circulation, which moves the body’s immune defenses to break down the infection. Increased circulation also flushes out the deposits of foreign toxins and materials that end up collecting and depositing toxins in glands, hair follicles and other “pockets” throughout the body.
Other home remedies used to combat skin boils include the use of herbs and correcting the diet with balanced nutrition. Some herbs used for boils include cumin, garlic, onion, parsley and turmeric.
Areas of concern when dealing with a boil include both age and health condition. The appearance of boils on a child should be examined and treated by a doctor–to confirm that it is a boil–to prevent secondary infection of the area and to rule out any other diseases.
Health conditions that warrant immediate attention when a boil forms are diabetes, cancer and any other condition that is immuno-compromising. In general, when a boil forms, especially if the person is taking medications or has a fever, have a doctor examine it to assess its condition.
The formation of some boils may be prevented by practicing good hygiene, which requires keeping the skin clean and washing the hands. Other boils may require antibiotic therapy to avoid a recurrence of the boils. In some cases of hidradenitis suppurativa and pilonidal cysts, surgery may be the option to remove the boils and prevent their recurrence in the same area.