A boil may appear to be a nasty pimple, but it’s actually the result of staph bacteria that have invaded a blocked hair follicle or oil gland and infected it. The bacteria, along with white blood cells and dead skin cells that accumulate at the site, form pus and cause swelling. Boils generally appear on the face, neck, scalp, buttocks, armpits or sometimes on a woman’s nipple. A cluster of boils is known as a carbuncle — a rare and more serious form that requires medical attention.
Who Is Susceptible?
People with diabetes or immune system problems.
- those exposed to certain industrial chemicals.
- people who are in generally poor health.
- People who lack adequate hygiene or a good diet.
- Those who overuse corticosteroids such as cortisone.
Boils are common ailments, and usually minor ones. However, they can be painful and may indicate a more serious condition.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a boil on your face, a cluster of boils or, particularly, boils accompanied by a fever. You could develop a more serious infection.
- The pain is excruciating – the physician may lance and drain the boil.
- You get boils frequently. Your doctor will want to find out what is causing them.