What is Furunculosis?
Also called a ‘boil’, a furuncle is an infection of a hair follicle. It is a deep infection causing a painful swelling over the infected skin due to the accumulation of pus and dead tissue.
Staphylococcus aureus is a normally occurring bacterium over the skin. The colonization of hair follicles by these bacteria is also reasonably common. In the presence of the above-mentioned risk factors, the setting in of infection and inflammation is quick and can cause accumulation of pus, causing local cellulitis.
Common Boil locations
- Common locations are back, shoulders, axilla (underarms), buttocks, ear canal and groin
- A boil on the eyelid is called a stye.
What are the causes and risk factors for boil or Furunculosis?
The condition is most commonly caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. Risk factors are as follows:
- Use of immunosuppressive drugs like anticancer therapy
- Bad personal hygiene
What are the symptoms of Boil?
- Local pain and tenderness (pain on touch)
- Increased temperature of the skin
- Fever is rare
- Centre of the swelling shows a yellow or a white spot. The boil may burst, discharging the thick yellow-white pus. Rupture reduces pain significantly.
- Enlarged lymph nodes which are also painful to touch
How is a Boil diagnosed?
The diagnosis is clinical. Your doctor may advise a culture of the pus from the boil to guide the choice of effective antibiotics.
What is the treatment for a Boil?
- Some boils may resolve on their own by bursting, but most require opening and drainage. The procedure can be carried out as an out-patient procedure under local anesthesia.
- Warm compresses before the boil open can speed the recovery.
- Once the boil opens or is drained, a course of antibiotics is given to prevent re-accumulation of pus or secondary infection by another organism.
- If a patient has recurrent boils, removal of the infective focus by plastic surgery is recommended. Also, the patient should be evaluated for any preexisting diseases like diabetes, HIV, etc.
- Topical antiseptic or antibiotic cream/ lotion is also given.
What are the complications with boil or Furunculosis?
- Convergence of nearby boils to form a large abscess (Carbuncle).
- Deep-seated cellulitis that may spread to the nearby tissues
- Systemic infection
- Bloodstream infection: In immunocompromised patients, it may lead to dissemination of infection to bones, brain, heart valves leading to potentially fatal conditions.
- Family history of recurrent furuncles is a risk factor to chronic infections and disseminated infections.
What are the lifestyle changes recommended to prevent Furunculosis?
- Maintenance of good personal hygiene
- Regular change of bed linen
- Monitoring of blood sugar
- Adequate treatment of seemingly trivial skin infections as complications in the elderly are common and do not show specific symptoms until major damage is done.
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