It All Boils Down to a Boil

Boils are an extremely common skin condition, occurring to over 80% of the world’s population. The boils are associated with a tender outgrowth on the first layer of the skin.

What is a Boil?

A boil is regarded generally as a skin infection which originates from a hair follicle. Every hair present on the human skin grows from a single hair follicle. This is usually attached on to the first layer of the skin. Along with the hair follicle, any sort of minor glands (including sweat secreting gland or oil secreting gland) can also be infected.

The boil starts with a red discoloration of the skin in the affected area. As time passes, the area of infection develops a tender lump. The tender lump is soft in touch and feels very fluid-like. After a week, the lump transforms into a white hillock. This is mainly caused due to the accumulation of pus inside the boil.

Where do the Boils Generally Occur?

Boils usually occur in sites where there are excess hair or sites where sweat secretion is maximum. The common places include the face, the armpits, the shoulders, the genital areas, and the buttocks.

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Usually, the boils occur as single entities, but in case if they ever appear in groups, they are called carbuncles.

Why are Boils Caused?

Staphylococcus bacteria are one of the most notorious strains of bacteria discovered by mankind. The bacteria can enter the host body by direct contact or usage of mutual items with an infected person. Broken skin also serves as an excellent medium for these bacteria to bypass the defense provided by the body against them. The Staphylococcus bacteria then travel down to the oil gland or hair follicle before entering into the body. This is why the appearance of a boil is usually considered as an early reminder that the body is being invaded by Staphylococcus bacteria!

Although Staphylococcus infection is totally random, there are many conditions which can impart a risk of being susceptible to the infection.

What are the Symptoms of Boils?

The boils are characterized by a red lump which progresses into a pus-filled white lump over time.

The clinical features involved in the appearance of boils include:

1. The skin near the infection starts turning red. This is mainly due to the inflammation caused by the entry of Staphylococcus bacteria inside the body. The area swells up and turns extremely warm. In certain patients, this area distributes a large amount of pain as well.

2. Due to the widespread infection capability of Staphylococcus bacteria, many boils can occur at the initial site of the primary boil. This leads to the formation of a much more serious skin condition called carbuncles.

3. High-grade fever is usually seen in affected individuals. This is due to the entry of Staphylococcus bacteria inside the body. This shows that immunity is fighting back the bacteria.

4. The tonsils and the lymph nodes can swell up due to infection!

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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.