Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Boils facts
- What is a boil? What are boil symptoms and signs?
- What causes boils to form?
- What are risk factors for boils?
- How are boils diagnosed?
- What are boil treatments and home remedies?
- When should someone seek medical attention for a boil?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) for a boil?
- What can be done to prevent boils (abscesses)?
- Pictures of Boils - Slideshow
- Medical Illustrations of Boils Image Collection
- Adult Skin Problems - Slideshow
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
When should someone seek medical attention for a boil?
While boils typically resolve on their own and have an excellent prognosis, there are special situations in which medical care should be sought when boils develop. Rarely, boils may spread or persist, leading to more widespread infections.
Any boil or abscess in a patient with diabetes or a patient with an underlying illness that can be associated with a weakened immune system (such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) should be evaluated by a health-care professional. Additionally, many medicines, especially prednisone, that suppress the immune system (the natural infection-fighting system of the body) can complicate what would be an otherwise simple boil. Those who are taking such medications should consult their health-care professional if they develop boils. (If someone is not sure about his or her medications' effects on the immune system, a pharmacist may be able to explain which medicines to be concerned about.)
Any boil that is associated with a fever should receive medical attention. Increasing reddening of the nearby skin and/or formation of red streaks on the skin (signs that the infection may be spreading), the failure of a boil to "form a head," and the development of multiple boils are other symptoms that warrant a visit to a health-care professional. Medical attention is also required for boils in an infant. Boils located on the face, spine, groin, or in the rectum may also require medical attention.
A "pilonidal cyst," a boil that occurs between the buttocks, is a special case. These almost always require medical treatment, including drainage and packing (putting gauze in the opened abscess to assure it continues to drain). Finally, any painful boil that is not rapidly improving should be seen by a health-care professional.
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