George Woodbury MD 2/21/2023
A Boil, or “Furuncle,” is the result of an infection in an oil gland of the skin, called a sebaceous gland. Dermatologic Surgeons like myself – now with over 30 years with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, Memphis TN - deal with this skin problem frequently, So let’s take a look at what causes Cysts and Boils, how we diagnose these conditions, and what can be done about them.
Many Dermatologists feel that a Boil results when the opening of a hair follicle – called a pore – gets clogged – resulting in an infected oil gland. If the lesion becomes infected, pus tends to drain from the site, resulting in an infection. Though there is some debate about the matter among Dermatologists, many of us treat the patient with a course of oral antibiotics, such as Minocycline, Doxycycline, or Cefadroxil. We often consider doing a procedure, called an Incision and Drainage, in which the lesion is injected with local anesthetic sometimes mixed with steroid solution, and the pus within the lesion is then drained, allowing us to check (through a test called a bacterial culture) which type of bacteria may be involved, which could include Staphylococcus (in which case this is called a Staph infection).
Dermatologic Surgeons often then schedule a second procedure called a Cyst Excision,” in which the lesion is once again anesthetized with a shot of local lidocaine or bupivacaine, then removed, or cut out. The site generally requires stitches, in our attempt to make the scar that results as small as possible. There is always a risk of a raised scar called a Keloid, which if it happens can then be injected with steroid medicines once a month, to help to settle that scar out.
If Dermatologic Surgeons like myself see a lesion or lesions that are suspicious, we generally remove the lesion for evaluation by the Dermatopathology laboratory, to check for Skin Cancer, for biopsy. It generally takes a week or two to get the results back.
What groups are at higher risk of Boils or Cysts?
Anyone can develop a Boil or Cyst, but people with widespread acne seem to be at higher risk. Athletes, including runners, football and basketball players, and weight lifters, seem to be at higher risk, perhaps because they tend to use gymnasiums where other people with infected cysts have been. People who use saunas also seem to have a higher risk of Boils, once again because of greater exposure to bacteria from other people with Boils.
Be aware that I am also President of Big River Silk™ Skincare, an organic skincare company that distributes a helpful deep cleanser that’s useful for people with Cysts and Boils: an Acne Wash called AmberSoy Soap Gel. We also manufacture and distribute a best skin cream moisturizer (HypoShea Moisturizer Cream and HypoShea Oil). Check us out at https://www.Bigriversilkskincare.com.
So if you or a family member or friend, has a suspicious lesion, or any type of a sore nodule that may be a Cyst or a Boil, consider seeing a “Dermatologist Near Me.” My Memphis Dermatology practice since 1993 has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN 38018 (1-901-753-0168). Or you can find a Dermatologist closer to you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology web site, www.AAD.org, then plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab. Don’t delay. Get examined today!
George Woodbury, Jr., M.D. 2/21/2023