A boil, or skin abscess, is a localized infection deep in the skin. A boil generally starts as a reddened, tender area. Over time, the area becomes firm and hard. Eventually, the center of the abscess softens and becomes filled with white cells that the body sends to fight the infection. This collection of white cells is known as pus.
Finally, the pus "forms a head" and drains out through the skin. Skin abscesses may occur anywhere on the body. They affect people of all ages.
There are several different types of boils. Among these are:
Furuncle or carbuncle:
This is an abscess in the skin caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus. It can have one or more openings onto the skin and may be associated with a fever or chills.Cystic acne:
This is a type of abscess formed when oil ducts become clogged and infected. Cystic acne is most common in the teenage years.Hidradenitis suppurativa:
This is an illness in which there are multiple abscesses that form under the arm pits and in the groin area. These are a result of local inflammation of the sweat glands.Pilonidal cyst:
This is a special kind of abscess that occurs in the crease of the buttocks. These frequently form after long trips that involve sitting.
There are many causes of boils. Some boils can be caused by an ingrown
hair. Some are caused when a localized infection causes pus and infected
material to collect in the skin or subcutaneous tissue. Others, such as
those of acne, are caused by plugged sweat glands that become infected.
Skin abscesses may follow a bacterial infection, commonly an infection
with a bacteria called staphylococcus.Symptoms of Abscess
Skin lesion maybe seen.
Abscess will be in the form of open sore or closed, domed
There maybe localized swelling, redness and
Affected area is tender and warm to touch.Diagnosis of Abscess
The diagnosis is based on the
appearance of the abscess.
Culture or examination of drainage from the lesion is done to find the
causative organismTreatment of Abscess
Most simple boils can be treated at
home. The main treatment for most boils is heat application, usually
with hot soaks or hot packs. Heat may speed healing, reduce
inflammation, and reduce discomfort.
Surgical incision and drainage of the abscess, with or without packing
for 24 to 48 hours, cleans the area and allows infection to be
Antibiotics can be given.Learn More about
BoilsComplications of abscess
Localized spread of infection.
Impingement on the functioning of adjacent
Gangrene (tissue death).
Systemic spread of infection will
Multiple new abscesses ("seeding" of infection).
Abscess formation on the joints, pleura, or other