AskDefine | Define furuncle

Dictionary Definition

furuncle n : a painful sore with a hard pus-filled core [syn: boil]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a boil or infected, inflamed, pus-filled sore

Extensive Definition

Boil or furuncle is a skin disease caused by the inflammation of hair follicles, thus resulting in the localized accumulation of pus and dead tissue. Individual boils can cluster together and form an interconnected network of boils called carbuncles. In severe cases, boils may develop to form abscesses.


The symptoms of boils are red, pus-filled lumps that are tender, warm, and/or painful. A yellow or white point at the center of the lump can be seen when the boil is ready to drain or discharge pus. In a severe infection, multiple boils may develop and the patient may experience fever and swollen lymph nodes. A recurring boil is called chronic furunculosis.
In some people, itching may develop before the lumps begin to develop. Boils are most often found on the back, stomach, underarms, shoulders, face, lip, eyes, nose, thighs and buttocks, but may be found elsewhere. Boils on the ear tend to be more painful, and can create shooting pain in the entire area when touched.
Sometimes boils will emit an unpleasant smell, particularly when drained or when discharge is present, due to the presence of bacteria in the discharge.


Boils are generally caused by an infection of the hair follicles by Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of bacterium that normally lives on the skin surface. It is thought that a tiny cut of the skin allows this bacterium to enter the follicles and cause an infection. This can happen during bathing or while using a razor.
People with immune system disorders, diabetes, poor hygiene or malnutrition (Vitamin A or E deficiency) are particularly susceptible to getting boils; however, they also occur in healthy, hygienic individuals, due to over scratching a particular area of the skin.
Hidradenitis suppurativa causes frequent boils. Boils in the armpits can sometimes be caused by anti-perspirant deodorants.
The development of boils throughout the body is also a symptom of smallpox.


Most boils run their course within 4 to 10 days. For most people, self-care by applying a warm compress or soaking the boil in warm water can help alleviate the pain and hasten draining of the pus (colloquially referred to as "bringing the boil to a head"). Once the boil drains, the area should be washed with antibacterial soap and bandaged well. The maturing process may be accelerated by applying Ichthammol-based salve.
In serious cases, prescription oral antibiotics such as dicloxacillin (Dynapen) or cephalexin (Keflex), or topical antibiotics, are commonly used. For patients allergic to penicillin-based drugs, erythromycin (E-base, Erycin) may also be used.
However, some boils are caused by a super bug known as Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or CA-MRSA. Bactrim or other sulfa drugs must be prescribed relatively soon after such a boil has started to form. MRSA tends to increase the speed of growth of the infection.
Also some boils can be caused by having too much iron in your system whether taking seperately or in taking too many vitamin supplements.
Magnesium sulphate (epsom salt) paste applied to the affected area can prevent the growth of bacteria and reduce boils by absorbing pus and drying up the lesion.


External links

furuncle in Danish: Furunkel
furuncle in German: Furunkel
furuncle in Estonian: Furunkul
furuncle in French: Furoncle
furuncle in Hebrew: פורונקל
furuncle in Lithuanian: Šunvotė
furuncle in Dutch: Steenpuist
furuncle in Japanese: せつ
furuncle in Polish: Czyrak
furuncle in Portuguese: Furúnculo
furuncle in Russian: Фурункул
furuncle in Simple English: Boil
furuncle in Finnish: Furunkuloosi
furuncle in Swedish: Furunkel
furuncle in Turkish: Çıban

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1