ZocdocAnswersWhat causes boils on the skin?

Question

What causes boils on the skin?

Had two boils on my leg and buttock last year. I'm scared that I am going to keep getting these throughout my life since I'm only 21 now. What causes boils? Is there any way I can prevent getting them in the future?

Answer

Boils in the skin are a relatively common occurrence that many people get at one time or another. That being said, recurrent boils are not normal and should be evaluated. I would recommend that you discuss this with your primary care doctor. If necessary, he or she may refer you an infectious disease specialist or a skin specialist (a dermatologist) who can better help you with this. A boil (also known as a furuncle) is a infection of the skin. The infection is often (if not always) centered around a hair follicle and involves the clogging of the hair pores. The infection forms a ball on the skin -- inside which the bacteria grow -- and thus gives the boil its characteristic appearance. A boil can happen randomly for many people. However, if someone is getting recurrent boils -- this may be a sign of a underlying problem. The first thing to consider is if you have poor skin hygiene that could be contributing. There should also be an evaluation of if there is poor circulation to the skin that contributes to the infection. There should also be an evaluation if there is a disorder with your body's ability to fight infection -- the most common of which is diabetes mellitus. Good hygiene is the first step, but please also talk to your doctor for more information. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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