Caring for an Armpit Boil: Healthy Hygiene Key to Prevention
An armpit boil can be not only painful, but embarrassing. Addressing the issue is crucial to reducing pain and preventing permanent damage or even death. To begin, we will look into exactly what an armpit boil is, how it can be treated, and what complications can occur if left unaddressed.
What is an Armpit Boil?
Boils, otherwise known as furuncles are typically hair follicles infected with Staphylococcus aureus that become swollen, pus filled, and painful. An armpit boil may present itself as a solitary furuncle or may appear in groups of two or more. Initially, boils are often small, but can grow to sizes in excess of 2 inches in diameter. Crusting and weeping are common with armpit boils and they can often spread to other areas of the body.
What are the complications of an armpit boil?
In some instances, armpit boils may heal on their own, but it is important to seek the advice of a physician if you experience the condition. As Staphylococcus can be deadly, getting early treatment is critical. It is suggested that medical counsel be sought if a furuncle has not ruptured on its own within two weeks of first becoming visible.
Below is a list of other complications that can result from untreated boil breakouts:
- Blood poisoning: Septic shock can occur if bacteria from an infected boil are allowed to enter into the blood stream.
- Brain Infection: Again, if bacteria or fungi from infected furuncles enter the blood stream, vital organs such as the brain can become overrun.
- Carbunculosis: In some cases, boils may grow into a closely connected group and cause very painful and hard to treat carbunculosis.
How can I tell if it’s a boil?
Many people often mistake furuncles for pimples. While both are typically pus filled, boils come with a variety of symptoms to better help identify them.
- Much like a herpes outbreak, sufferers of boils will usually begin to feel minor irritation and itch around the area of a boil before it ever appears.
- As boils are most frequently the result of bacterial and fungal infection, sufferers will usually experience feelings of illness such as fever, exhaustion, and possibly nausea.
What to do
Treatment options for armpit boils vary depending on severity, recurrence, and location of the boil. In a large majority of cases, furuncles may go unaddressed and heal on their own. In other instances, such as when boils are present on the face or are a persistent problem, medical intervention is needed. Usually, small furuncles may be soaked with a warm washcloth and allowed to drain naturally at home. In situations where boils are large or have become extremely painful, a doctor may wish to surgically drain out the infection and will treat with antibiotics.
How to avoid armpit boils
Although not every boil can be avoided, doing what you can to promote better hygiene is always a great step in the right direction. For underarm boils, cleanliness is important as sweat glands and hair follicles are easily clogged and can become infected. Using anti bacterial body washes and keeping your hands clean can help to prevent breakouts. If you shave your armpits, be sure that any abrasions or cuts are treated with care so as to prevent infection.
As with any health condition no article should ever replace the advice of your doctor. If you or someone you know suffers from repetitive bouts of boils, please be sure to consult with a physician to ascertain the exact cause and to get more information on treatment options available to you.