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What is a Boil?

A localized infection that runs deep in the skin, a boil is a skin abscess filled with pus that forms inside the body. Usually, it first appears tender, reddened area. Gradually, the area turns firm and hard and tender. Subsequently, the center of the boil gets softer and is filled with white blood cells dispatched by the body from to fight the infection. This collection of white blood cells, proteins and bacteria is commonly called pus. Lastly, the pus gets a “head" that can either be opened by surgery or which can drain out on its own through the skin surface. Boils can be of various types including furuncle or carbuncle, cystic acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, and pilonidal cyst.

Symptoms of Boils:
In most cases, boils indicate their arrival in the form of reddish, pus-filled lumps that are tender and warm. Sometimes, these lumps are painful as well. One can detect a yellow or white point at the center of the lump at the time when the accumulated pus is about to be drained out or discharged from the boil. If the infection is severe, multiple boils may appear accompanied by fever and swollen lymph nodes. A recurring boil is known as chronic furunculosis. There is sometimes an itchy feeling in the area prior to the formation of the lump. Commonly, boils appear on the back, stomach, underarms, shoulders, face, lip, eyes, nose, thighs and buttocks. But the possibility of boils appearing elsewhere cannot be ruled out altogether. Because of the presence of bacteria in the discharge, boils may sometimes emit a foul smell, especially when drained.

Causes of Boils:
Boils can be caused by a number of factors. While some boils may appear because of an ingrown hair, a splinter or other foreign material that has entered into the skin may cause others. Boils, like those of acne, occur because of infection in plugged sweat glands. The skin plays a major role in our immune defence system protecting it from materials and microbes that are foreign to our body. So once there is a break in the skin, such as a cut or scrape, it can lead to an abscess if it gets infected with bacteria. Although anyone can have boils, those who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, or hypogammaglobulinemia are more prone to developing boils.

Prevention and treatment of Boils:
Natural and Ayurvedic: Although it is not possible to prevent boils completely, a few measures can be taken to reduce the chances of their formation. For example, good hygiene and the regular use of antibacterial soaps can stop the build-up of bacteria on the skin. This diminishes the chance for the hair follicles to get infected and thereby form boils. Most boils are treatable at home, but an early attention is essential for avoiding future complications.

Home Remedies:
The most common treatment for most boils is heat application, often using hot soaks or hot packs. Small boils, like those that form around hairs, usually drain on their own with soaking. Larger boils, however, sometimes may need to be drained or "lanced" by a doctor. In most cases, such larger boils contain several pockets of pus that must be opened and drained. Antibiotics are often used to fight the accompanying bacterial infection, more so if there is an infection of the surrounding skin. Antibiotics, however, have not been found to work in every case.

Ritharsh center of ayurveda at Indore in India is a best center for curing boils.

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