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Definition of «Boil»

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Boil: A skin abscess, a collection of pus localized deep in the skin. A boil usually starts as a reddened, tender area and in time becomes firm and hard. Eventually, the center of the abscess softens and becomes filled with white blood cells that the body sends to fight the infection. This collection of white cells is the pus.

There are several different types of boils. Among them are the following:

  • Furuncle or carbuncle: An abscess in the skin caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. It can have one or more openings onto the skin and may be associated with fever and chills.
  • Cystic acne: A type of abscess formed when oil ducts become clogged and infected. Cystic acne is most common in the teenage years.
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa: An illness in which there are multiple abscesses that form under the arm pits and in the groin area. These areas are a result of local inflammation of the sweat glands.
  • Pilonidal cyst: A special kind of abscess that occurs in the crease of the buttocks. These frequently form after long trips that involve sitting.

Antibiotics are often not very helpful in treating abscesses. The main treatments are hot packs and then draining ("lancing") the abscess when it is soft and ready to drain.

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