What causes boils? Quite simply put...they happen when bacteria gets under the skin and causes an infection.
So how does bacteria manage to wrangle their way into the lower layers?
There are a number of ways including….a cut, scrape, simple lodged splinter, ingrown hairs, bed sores. Other causes even include complications from cystic acne.
Remember, that germs are always present on your skin, and germs are the main causes of boils and for the most part, our immune system is able to deal with these germs effectively without any symptoms.
However, when an infection sets in our white cells seek out those germs and gather in one spot and create a barrier so the germs don’t spread……
While this is a good thing, it also what causes those nasty boils symptoms…….you know those painful, red swollen, bumps filled pus.
Other causes of boils (especially ones that keep coming back) usually stem from diseases that cause a decreased physical resistance to germs.
This especially true in those who suffer from diabetes.
Diabetics seem to have a much higher tendency toward developing boils and other types of infections more frequently.
While nobody is 100% sure why these abscess disorders are more prevalent in diabetics, there seems to be a connection between blood sugar levels and infections.
In fact, type 2 form seems to be most linked with a variety of disorders like boils, infections, and acne.
This could be due to the fact that diabetics may have a weakened immune system, excess or high levels of insulin, or even due to excess androgen linked to a hormonal imbalance.
If you've never been diagnosed with diabetes, but also notice other symptoms like excess thirst and urination, you should see your physician.
In addition to diabetes, medical condition or disease that causes an impairment to the immune system - where the person does not have enough antibodies to fight off the infection - can predispose one to this condition.
As can taking certain drugs like anti-inflammatory medications (prednisone) to various chemotherapy/cancer drugs.
You now can add heavy smoking to the list of causes. According to a recent study published in The Dermatology researchers found that up to 90% of people suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa were also smokers.
Hidradenitis suppurativa (or Smoker's Boils) is a type of condition that causes the development of multiple boils in one area……. usually in the groin or armpit area. It's basically an infection or inflammation of the sweat glands.
But, the good news is, if patients stopped smoking as soon as symptoms developed, they have better chance for recovery.
Not sure what you have? Don't seek treatment unless you know what it is.
Boils are highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the body or to other family members, so make sure you keep the infected area and your hands clean.
Often times a boil will start out as a small red bump, then after a few days it may become larger, red, painful or sensitive.
In about 7-14 days the swelling may increase and the area may become hard while white head develops in the center.
This is where the infectious pus is located so if it bursts, make sure to clean the area with antibiotic soap to prevent the infection from spreading.
Sometimes if the boil is located in the groin area, friction from movement and clothing causes it burst on it's own.....so it's important to keep an eye out for that.
However, in some extreme cases, it may have to be drained (lanced) by your physician.
It’s important to wait until a boil is fully formed to clean it out, or you risk further infection in other areas (the boil is trying to protect you by creating a barrier – so you don’t want to drain it before that barrier is fully formed).
If you develop a fever or any other serious side effects, seek medical attention right away.
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