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.
Causes of Abscess
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 nodule.
- There maybe localized swelling, redness and induration.
- 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 organism
Treatment 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 controlled.
- Antibiotics can be given.
Learn More about Boils
Complications of abscess are:
- Localized spread of infection.
- Impingement on the functioning of adjacent structures.
- Gangrene (tissue death).
Systemic spread of infection will cause:
- Multiple new abscesses ("seeding" of infection).
- Abscess formation on the joints, pleura, or other locations.
Latest Publications and Research on Boils / Skin Abscess
- A Phase II, Open Label Study of Bermekimab in Patients with Hidradenitis Suppurativa Shows Resolution of Inflammatory Lesions and Pain. - Published by PubMed
- Umbilical Ablation During Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap Harvest Decreases Donor Site Complications. - Published by PubMed
- Pathological profiles of systemic infections by Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in a murine model. - Published by PubMed
- Skin Infections and Outpatient Burn Management: Skin Infections in Patients With Diabetes. - Published by PubMed
- Skin Infections and Outpatient Burn Management: Bacterial Skin Infections. - Published by PubMed