Table of Contents
Definition of Furuncle
An infected hair follicle, commonly called a boil. A furuncle develops when bacteria normally present on the surface of the skin (typically staphylococcus) causes a collection of dead cells and fluid (pus) to block the follicle.
The blocked follicle becomes reddened, inflamed, enlarged, and usually quite painful. Furuncles are most likely to develop in the underarm area, groin, hairline at the back of the neck, and, in men, the beard area of the face.
Most furuncles improve with frequent applications of moist heat, which helps open the follicle and drain the collected pus. A typical furuncle heals on its own in 7 to 10 days, though a large furuncle may take longer. A furuncle that does not improve within 10 days warrants a doctor’s evaluation and may require lancing (a small incision to drain the infection) or antibiotic medications.
Preventive measures include reducing irritation from clothing and regular cleansing with an antibacterial soap. Prompt treatment at the earliest indication of a furuncle can minimize or head off the infection’s development. A large furuncle may leave a SCAR after it heals, though most furuncles heal without scarring.
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