What are Boils?
Also called solar lentigines, age spots refer to the brownish areas that appear over time on your face and body. Age spots occur as a result of overexposure to the sun. Often seen on people over 40, anyone can have age spots.
Usually, age spots do not cause any problems and do not require medical care. If the spots are especially dark or have changed in appearance, have your physician exam them to make sure there is no risk of skin cancer. After a visual inspection, your doctor can determine if the area needs to be biopsied.
What causes Boils?
Factors that can increase the risk of developing boils include:
- Poor hygiene: Poor hygiene practices can increase the risk of skin infections, including boils.
- Weak immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or other medical conditions, are more susceptible to skin infections, including boils.
- Crowded living conditions: Crowded living conditions, such as in schools, prisons, and military barracks, can increase the risk of spreading skin infections, including boils.
- Skin conditions: Certain skin conditions, such as eczema, can increase the risk of developing boils.
- Using shared personal items: Sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, can increase the risk of spreading skin infections, including boils.
- Poor nutrition: Poor nutrition, especially a lack of vitamin C, can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of skin infections, including boils.
What are the symptoms of Boils?
The symptoms of a boil typically include:
- Painful, red, and swollen bump: A boil is a tender, red, and swollen bump that develops under the skin.
- Pus-filled head: Over time, the boil will develop a yellow or white pus-filled head.
- Pain or discomfort: Boils can cause pain or discomfort, especially when they are touched or pressed.
- Increased size: Boils can grow larger over time as the infection spreads deeper into the skin.
- Fever: In some cases, a person with a boil may develop a fever as the body fights off the infection.
- Swelling: Boils can cause swelling in the affected area, making it difficult to move or use the affected limb.
What treatments are available for Boils?
The following treatments may be used to treat boils:
- Drainage: The pus from the boil will need to be drained to allow it to heal. Your doctor may use a sterile needle or scalpel to make an opening in the boil, allowing the pus to drain out.
- Antibiotics: In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to help clear the infection. This is especially true if the boil is caused by a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
- Warm compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected area can help increase blood flow and speed up the healing process.
- Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and discomfort associated with boils.
- Incision and drainage: If the boil is large or if it’s not draining on its own, your doctor may need to make an incision and drain the pus to prevent the infection from spreading.
It’s important to seek prompt medical attention if you develop a boil, as untreated boils can spread and cause serious infections. Your doctor can help determine the best course of treatment based on your symptoms and medical history.
How to Help Prevent Boils
There are several steps you can take to help prevent boils:
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom or before preparing food. Shower regularly and keep your skin clean and dry.
- Avoid sharing personal items: Do not share towels, razors, or other personal items that can spread bacteria.
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean: If you have a cut or scrape, clean it with soap and water and cover it with a bandage until it heals.
- Avoid tight clothing: Wear loose-fitting clothing, especially in warm, moist areas where bacteria can thrive.
- Treat skin conditions: If you have eczema or another skin condition that can increase your risk of developing boils, follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment.
- Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet, including adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, can help keep your immune system strong and reduce your risk of skin infections, including boils.
- Keep your skin healthy: Moisturize your skin and avoid using harsh soaps or other skin care products that can irritate the skin and increase your risk of developing boils.
By following these steps and seeking prompt medical attention if you develop a boil, you can help prevent boils and reduce the risk of serious infections.
FAQ About Boils
How are boils diagnosed?
Boils are typically diagnosed based on a physical exam, during which your doctor will examine the affected area and ask about your symptoms. In some cases, a sample of the pus may be taken for laboratory analysis to identify the underlying cause of the infection.
Can boils spread to other parts of the body?
Boils can spread to other parts of the body if the infection is not properly treated. In some cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause a serious, life-threatening infection.
How long do boils last?
Boils can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the infection and the effectiveness of the treatment.
Can boils recur?
Boils can recur, especially if the underlying cause of the infection is not treated or if you have a weakened immune system.
When should you see a dermatologist for a boil?
You should see a dermatologist if you develop a boil, especially if it’s large or painful, or if you have a weakened immune system or other underlying medical condition that increases your risk of serious infections. The dermatologist can help determine the best course of treatment based on your symptoms and medical history.
Is there a dermatologist near me in Winston-Salem that offers treatment for boils?
Yes. At our Winston-Salem dermatology office we offer treatment for boils to patients from Winston-Salem and the surrounding area. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.