Boils not only look ugly, they also hurt. These purulent, one to two centimeters in diameter nodes occur spontaneously individually or heaped up and can basically arise wherever there are hair on the skin. The most common boils are the following: boils on the face, neck and underarms, boils on the buttocks, boils on the anus and boils on the pubic area and on the thighs. But there are also boils in the ear and boils on the nose. In a boil, the hair follicle and the surrounding tissue are painfully inflamed.
How a boil arises
A boil occurs when bacteria, mostly Staphylococcus aureus from the nasopharynx, can invade the skin along tiny skin lesions - especially if the local immune system of the skin is weakened. They then migrate down a hair follicle or along the sweat glands and infect the hair follicle.
The inflammation spreads rapidly to the tissue around the hair follicle. In addition, a kind of capsule forms around the invaders, making it harder for the immune system to recognize the bacteria behind their invisibility cloak. Tissue cells are destroyed, immune cells hurry and pus develops.
Boils: causes and triggers
The pus may eventually break through the skin surface and empty. Factors that favor the formation of a boil are:
- an unrecognized or underdeveloped sugar disease (diabetes)
- too tight clothing that rubs against the skin
- Inadequate disinfection after shaving or depilation
5 facts about boils - © istockphoto, ksenia_bravo
Why boils can be dangerous
If several neighboring boils combine, a carbuncle is formed. Then a larger skin area is affected. In extreme cases, the lymphatic channels of the skin can become inflamed and the lymph nodes swell. There is also the risk that the causative bacteria enter the bloodstream and trigger blood poisoning.
For the danger of a boil, it is important at which point of the body surface it forms. If a boil appears on the face, it is particularly dangerous. With a boil on the face, there is a risk that pathogens via the venous bloodstream lead to cerebral venous thrombosis or meningitis.
Treatment: What you should not do
Two things are taboo in the treatment of boils:
- Use ointment
- express the boil
If you push and the boil is not yet fully ripe, it may be that this abscess opens inwards. In the worst case this can lead to blood poisoning (sepsis). Even dangerous infections or the formation of so-called fistula ducts are possible.
Therapy with a boil
In the initial phase of the still "immature" boil without pus, a vasodilating boil ointment may be helpful.
This boil therapy speeds up the maturation of the boil. If a boil is ripe, the doctor will scrape it with a scalpel to relieve the pressure on the bacteria to penetrate further into the surrounding tissue.
The doctor must decide whether in addition to slicing the intake of antibiotics for 14 days makes sense.
With broken boils, it is advisable to put soft, lukewarm cloths on them. With deep boils, however, there is a danger that the actual focus of inflammation is not or not completely eliminated. Then it will come back to boil relatively soon.
Furunculosis: recurrent boils
For recurring furuncles - a so-called furunculosis - it may therefore be useful to surgically remove the focus of inflammation and earlier scar tissue. In case of furunculosis or, if an underlying abscess has been surgically removed, it is advisable, in addition to conventional boilermaker therapy, to perform a type of vaccination with the pathogens detectable in the pus to better arm the immune system (autovaccine).
Good hygiene is also important in a boil therapy:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap after each contact with the furuncles.
- It is advisable not to take a bath, but to take a shower to prevent transmission to other areas of the skin.
- Towels and bed linen are to be washed at high temperatures.
- Who sweats fast and often, should wear airy clothes, as well as strong sweating favors the emergence of boils.