A boil (or furuncle) is an infection that causes a painful, pus-filled lump under your skin. While it may be tempting to “pop” it like a pimple, doing so can actually cause the infection to spread — even through your bloodstream.
The better option: Have your boil evaluated by the team at South Florida Surgical Group. Michael Renfrow, MD, FACS and Steven Kanter, MD, FACS have extensive experience treating boils, using special techniques to relieve pain, heal the area, and prevent potentially dangerous complications.
If you have a boil, here’s what to do to help it heal as quickly as possible.
Boils start out as red lumps under your skin. Eventually, a white or yellow spot forms, indicating a collection of pus under the skin’s surface. Like a pimple, a boil forms when bacteria invade a hair follicle, causing an infection. But while pimples heal on their own over time, boils often need help in healing, and that means seeing a doctor as soon as possible.
Without prompt medical care, the bacteria inside the boil can spread to other tissue, causing a larger skin infection known as a carbuncle. Or they can spread through your bloodstream, infecting other tissues and organs — even your heart.
Anyone can develop a boil, but they tend to be more common among older people, teens and young adults, and people with compromised immune systems. Some underlying medical conditions, like diabetes, may also increase your risk of developing a boil.
Boils can be spread from one person to another through skin contact or by touching infected objects, then touching your skin. Because a boil is an active infection, you might also have a fever or swollen lymph nodes in addition to the painful lump itself.
If you have a boil, it’s important to have it evaluated by one of our doctors as early as possible to prevent the infection from spreading. Most boils need to be drained and cleansed to get rid of bacteria and debris. Unless the boil is properly drained, the bacteria inside the boil can continue to grow and spread.
To drain a boil, we numb the area using a local anesthetic, then make a very tiny incision or opening that allows the pus to be removed. The surgeon cleans and irrigates the boil to get rid of harmful bacteria.
Some smaller boils may open on their own, especially when treated with very warm compresses. However, a medical evaluation is still important for providing antibiotics — either topical or oral — to make sure all the bacteria inside the boil are destroyed.
Even though it might seem like “just” a small problem, a boil can cause life-threatening complications unless it’s treated promptly. If you have a boil, call the office right away at 305-279-9522, or book an appointment online at our practice in Kendall, Miami, Florida today.