A boil is an infection of a hair follicle (a tiny pit in the skin from which a hair grows) by certain bacteria, usually Staphylococcus. The follicle becomes inflamed and painful.
White blood cells, bacteria, and dead skin cells form thick white or yellow pus within the inflamed area.A carbuncle is either an unusually large, severe boil or a group of boils joined together by small tunnels in the skin.
Boils and carbuncles are localized infections and usually heal quickly. In a few cases, they are the result of poor resistance to infection or poor hygiene. Boils should not be confused with acne or with any other skin problems.
What are the Symptoms?
A boil starts as a red, tender lump, which may throb. Eventually, it either bursts through the skin or, less commonly, disperses inside. In either case, the pain is relieved and the boil heals.
Boils are extremely common. They affect virtually everybody at some time. Carbuncles are much rarer. Both may recur, because the bacteria that cause the boil or carbuncle may remain on the skin and produce more boils later. There is a risk that if the bacteria find their way from the boil or skin into warm food, they can multiply and produce toxins that cause food poisoning . So if you have a boil you should wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food. If you have recurring boils, you should discuss the problem with your physician.
What should be done?
Most boils burst or disperse of their own accord within two weeks. If you have a boil
for longer than this, or if you have recurrent boils, see your physician. The doctor may take a sample of your blood and/or urine to rule out the unlikely possibility that an underlying disease such as diabetes mellitus is responsible for the boils. Successful treatment for any underlying disease should stop the boils from recurring.
What is the treatment?
Self-help: If you want to get rid of the boil as quickly as possible, apply a hot compress made of cotton cloth soaked in hot water to the boil every few hours. This will help relieve discomfort and hasten bursting.
In addition, or perhaps as an alternative, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria. The treatment for recurrent boils is usually antibiotics and/or an antiseptic soap.This treatment may need to be carried out for several weeks to eradicate the bacteria that are causing the boils. If you have boils,it is best to take showers instead of baths and thus reduce the chances of spreading the infection to other parts of your body.