Boils are a more serious, progressed and painful version of a pustule. There are several types of boils that are classified depending on their make-up and the location where they occur on the skin.
Boils are a type of inflammatory acne that occurs when staph bacteria on the skin, slip under the skin and infect hair follicles. An early warning sign of a boil is folliculitis, where you may see lots of tiny whiteheads developing with redness and are tender to the touch.
A single boil will form around one hair follicle, and swell as the body tries to fight off the infection with more white blood cells. As the white blood cells die, the follicle will fill with pus and the boil will get bigger.
Teenagers often experience developing several small boils on their face while their hormones are changing, which is often called cystic acne.
When several follicles are infected under the skin, the boil is called a carbuncle. These can occur in skin folds of the body as well as the buttocks and often need oral antibiotics to treat.
Most boils are mild enough to be taken care of with a few simple steps. Applying a warm compress at home can encourage the infectious material to rise to the surface of the skin and drain. Washing with OTC benzoyl peroxide wash offers some anti-infective protection as well.
However, if a boil doesn’t improve, you should seek medical attention. You should seek immediate medical attention if you:
- Develop a fever
- Your lymph nodes begin to swell
- The boil develops severe pain
- The skin around the boil becomes red
- Red streaks appear around the boil