What is a boil and how do you treat it?

A boil or furuncle is a painful red bump with a yellow pus head on it. A boil occurs as a result of an inflammation in a hair follicle or a sebaceous gland. Hygiene is very important both to prevent boils and also when you have one. Men and women can get boils, but collections of boils (carbuncles) are more common in men. Boils often go away on their own, but complications can arise.

What is a boil or furuncle?

A boil is a hard red and painful bump on a hairy part of the body, which after a few days forms a yellow pus head. A boil occurs as a result of an inflammation of a sebaceous gland or a hair follicle and is caused by staphylococci, a bacterium found on the skin. Boils occur in both men and women, but a carbuncle (a collection of boils together) often occurs in men on the neck.

Symptoms of a boil

The complaints start with a red bump, for example in the neck, groin, buttocks or armpit. The bump is painful and becomes harder and larger after a few days (due to swelling of the skin around it). A yellow pus head will then form on the bump. The boil will pop open on its own, allowing the pus to escape. The pain will be completely gone after this. The wound will heal on its own.

Complications that can occur with a boil

A boil can cause inflammation in the lymph node. This causes pain and swelling at the spot. Furthermore, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis. This can be especially dangerous for people with an artificial heart valve.

Factors that increase the risk of boils developing

  • Poor hygiene; Grease and dirt can clog hair follicles and increase the risk of a boil
  • Wearing clothes that are too tight or abrasive; Boils develop more easily when the skin is irritated. Too-tight clothing often causes boils in the neck, groin and armpit
  • Excessive sweating; the skin becomes irritated and sweltering
  • Reduced immune system
  • Overweight
  • Diseases such as diabetes and resistance-lowering diseases
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition


What can you do to prevent boils as much as possible?

  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Do not wear tight clothing if you often suffer from boils
  • Eat healthy and get enough sleep and rest


What can you do if you have a boil?

  • Place warm compresses on the boil to speed up the ripening process
  • Keep the area around the boil clean and always use a clean washcloth and towel
  • Do not pick or press the pimple. If you do this, there is a good chance that you will reinfect yourself, resulting in more boils
  • Always wash your hands well after the pimple has burst
  • Clean the burst boil thoroughly twice a day with a sterile gauze and iodine and cover the area with a sterile gauze
  • Shower with disinfectant soap to prevent the infection from spreading


When should you go to the doctor with a boil?

  • If you have a fever and feel ill
  • If you have an artificial heart valve or a valve disease
  • If you are suffering from a large collection of boils
  • If the boil is in or between the lip and nose area
  • If you constantly get boils again and again; this may indicate an underlying cause such as diabetes

The doctor can prescribe antibiotics to prevent complications from developing.

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