What Are Boils?


Quick Answer

Boils are infections of the skin that are typically caused by staphylococcal bacteria and develop in the underlying oil glands or hair follicles, explains WebMD. The bacteria makes its way beneath the skin via minuscule cuts or abrasions and multiplies once it reaches the oil glands or hair follicles.

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What Are Boils?
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Full Answer

Boils commonly develop on areas of the skin that are prone to friction and sweating, such as the underarms, thighs and buttocks, explains Mayo Clinic. Boils typically present as a red, painful swelling that grows in size over a few days' time and contains a white or yellow tip.

Additional symptoms of boils include itching skin in the affected area prior to boil development, inflamed skin surrounding the boil and fever in certain cases. Boils can often be treated at home by applying warm compresses to the affected area in order to promote drainage. Boils should not be squeezed or cut open as a home treatment, as this can cause the bacteria to spread. In certain cases, severe boils that are large in size may require surgical drainage. It is important for individuals with boils to seek medical attention if the condition does not resolve on its own within two weeks or if symptoms are accompanied by fever, states Medline Plus.

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