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What Causes Boils?

A boil, also known as a furuncle, is a skin condition caused due to microbial infection. Often individual boils cluster together to form carbuncles. However, what causes these? Read this HealthHearty article to find out.
Bhakti Satalkar
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Boils often appear on the eyes, face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. A boil on the eye is known as a stye. A skin infection which starts in the oil glands or hair follicle is often referred to as a boil. The skin in the affected area becomes red. A lump is formed after five to eight days, and pus is collected in the lump. If adequate care is not taken, the infection can spread to the deeper tissues of the skin. Let us try to understand what causes boils, and how we can treat them.
There are numerous causes of skin boils. A bacterial species called Staphylococcus, also referred to as staph bacteria, is said to cause boils. The bacteria which is present on the skin manages to get under the epidermis through breaks or hair-follicle roots to cause a condition similar to dermatitis. The staph bacteria can also penetrate the upper layer of the skin through sweat glands.
When the bacteria reaches the inner layer of the skin, the immune system of the body, as a defense mechanism, releases white blood cells. These cells are released at the location of the infection to fight the invasion of the bacteria. The pus which is formed is actually dead white blood cells, engulfed bacteria, and dead skin cells.
The other causes of skin boils include skin disorders borne out of toxic wastes in the bloodstream. Blood disorders could occur due to an unhealthy lifestyle, illnesses, or a poor diet, among other things. If junk food is a major constituent of your diet, you can suffer from boils. Illnesses weaken the immune system. When the immune system is compromised, you become an easy target for germs and bacteria. People suffering from diabetes should take utmost care as they are more susceptible to these infections.
Sometimes medication given to combat other illnesses lowers your body's ability to fight bacteria and other infections, putting you at a higher risk of being affected by these boils. One of the most common causes of boils is hair in-growth. They are also caused if the sweat glands are clogged, which is mainly due to the accumulation of dirt which blocks the sweat gland openings.
Pollution should also be added to the list of reasons which causes boils. Along with pollution, the other factor is exposure to harsh chemicals. At the same time, if hygiene is not maintained, it can also be one of the major causes. Can you imagine what else could cause skin boils other than the reasons mentioned above? Sitting at one place for extended periods of time can also be one of the reasons. Wearing very tight clothes too is said to be the cause.
The best way to treat boils is by using hot packs. Using a hot pack increases blood circulation at the site of the infection, and enables the body to fight off infection by depositing more white blood cells at the affected site. When the boil is still firm, it should be opened to check for any formation of pus. If so, you need to drain out the pus, as sometimes, its accumulation can cause a condition known as cellulitis.
Draining off the pus will also bring you relief from pain. However, do not forget to keep the area around the boil clean after you have drained it. In case you do not take care, there is a possibility of another boil appearing next to the old one. If the boils are caused due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be prescribed to first dry the pus, and then get rid of the infection. Antibiotics help in reducing the infection. In case you experience chills and fever with the boils you will have to take a trip to the doctor.
The causes of boils differ from person to person. Hence, it is important, that hygiene, in terms of skin care, is maintained so that you can ward off any form of boil or similar infection of the skin.