Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"I keep getting boils in the exact same spot. What is wrong with me?"
I've been getting boils right on the inside of my vagina lips. Been going on for about 4 years now. I'll get one or two they will get to be too painful and I'll go in to the hospital and they will run culture on them and it'll come back positive for MERSA. I've had the same boil for as long as 5 months before. However I keep getting them in the same spot and all they do it cut them open and send me on my way. I stopped going into the hospital for them and have been taking care of them at home. I have a new one and it's painful, if I go in they will cut it open send me home yada yada and I'll be back in a month or two. Is there anything I can ask them to do to stop these from coming back? Do I need an IV antibiotic?
A boil - or abscess in medical terminology - is a superficial skin infection that has formed a pocket of pus. It is a common problem, but especially if it is recurrent, should be evaluated by a physician. When you talk to a doctor about your boils and diagnosis of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, you should be prepared to discuss the following information. An abscess (or boil) is caused by bacterial that are commonly found on the skin forming a pocket of pus. These infections can originate from hair follicles, so as you keep getting infections in a hair-covered area, this could be the reason. As you have noted, the area becomes hard, red, and painful, due to the underlying pus. When the doctors perform and "incision and drainage", they are draining the pus which decreases the pain at the site and allows the body to heal the area more quickly. However, if your abscesses have grown out MRSA, this means you are likely colonized with this particular bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. MRSA used to be found in hospital settings, but increasingly is present in the community. About 1-2% of people carry MRSA on their skin or in their nose. Being colonized with the bacteria simply means that you are carrying it on your body, but this is different than an infection in which the bacteria makes you ill (such as when you develop an abscess). For people who are colonized with MRSA and have frequent MRSA infections, removal of MRSA (or decolonization) is sometimes considered. There are various methods for accomplishing decolonization, but most involve a nasal ointment called Mupirocin, to be applied to your nares for several days, as well as a special soap (called Hibiclens) that is used in the shower for several days. Decolonization reduces the risk of spreading MRSA to others and of getting infections in the future. IV antibiotics are typically not used in decontamination, but rather to treat an active infection, such as a severe abscess or cellulitis. It is not possible to determine whether you need antibiotics or MRSA decontamination without evaluation by a physician. I strongly suggest that you promptly make an appointment to see your primary care doctor, who may refer you to an infectious disease specialist if appropriate.
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