Boils are a deep infection of a hair follicle surrounding a tissue. They occur on hair-bearing skin and therefore cannot develop in the palms, foot soles or on the lips.
According to Dr Edward Ogwang, a dermatologist at The Skin Specialist Clinic in Wandegeya, “boils, also called furuncles, are painful red swellings filled with pus on the skin surface above the infected hair follicles.”
Boils are caused by bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus which can be transmitted through skin wounds. Boils, which commonly appear on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders and buttocks, become painful as they get bigger and sometimes cause inflammation of the skin before bursting. When a boil forms on the eyelid, it is called a stye.
Care and treatment
Wash the affected area with water and keep the place clean all the time.
Use a clean piece of cloth with warm water to cause the boil to become yellow and pointed, and to reduce pain. Although a boil will heal on its own after draining the pus, you may need to dress the area and give some painkillers to reduce pain.
“See a doctor for a prescription if the boil causes general body weakness and fever, because self-medication is always dangerous,” says Dr Henry Ngobi, a dermatologist at Jinja Referral Hospital.
Dr Ogwang warns, “Only prick open a yellowish and pointed boil to drain the pus. If it is too painful, go to the doctor to drain out the pus because not every swelling is a boil. The doctor will be able to diagnose it.”
He adds that the doctor usually prescribes antibiotics or ointment but there are times when a person becomes resistant to the antibiotics so he aises that a sample of the pus be taken for better prescription depending on the type of bacteria they have.
Never poke or cut a boil before it is ready with a yellowish colour and pointed end.
Besides scarring, Dr Ogwang says boils can progress from the skin to the spinal cord, brain, kidneys, or other internal organs. The infection may also spread to the bloodstream and lungs and become life-threatening, causing pneumonia. Sometimes, the infections are relatively limited but other times they may
spread to other skin areas.
Ensure good personal and environmental hygiene.
Bathe regularly and wash hands with soap when you use toilets.
Clean toilet seats before using them and avoid sharing personal items.
Clean and treat all minor skin wounds.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor