Acne Boils on the Face
Acne, although most common during adolescence, can appear during any stage of life. The National Institutes of Health estimates that roughly four of every five people ages 11 to 30 have periodic acne outbreaks. Acne occurs when your skin’s natural oils become trapped within hair follicles. Trapped oil and skin cells give bacteria an ideal breeding ground. Depending on the type of bacteria that gets trapped in your pores, you could end up with a facial boil.
Acne and Boils
Boils are caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, often referred to simply as staph. Staph bacteria live on the surface of every person's skin. If you have a cut or sore, it's imperative that you treat it properly to prevent staph from entering your body. Those who have chronic acne are often more susceptible to facial boils, because acne gives staph bacteria an ideal entry point--through already inflamed hair follicles. When staph bacteria infect a hair follicle, a boil results.
Recognizing a Boil
You may initially mistake a boil for acne because of its appearance. The British Association of Dermatologists reports that a boil often starts out as a red lump that is tender to the touch. In some cases, boils resolve on their own and you may never realize that you had a staph infection. If a facial boil does not go away on its own, it will increase in size and fill up with pus. The boil may eventually burst and begin to drain. Boils that spontaneously drain usually heal on their own and do not require medical treatment.
You can encourage a boil to drain by applying hot compresses and gentle pressure. If the boil remains, your doctor may lance it in his office with sterile equipment. Never attempt to lance a boil yourself. Not only could you leave a scar, you could introduce additional bacteria.
Your doctor may also recommend an oral antibiotic to kill the staph bacteria. You may notice an improvement in your acne while taking the antibiotics to clear up the boil. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that antibiotics are currently the medical standard for moderate to severe acne.
Preventing Future Boils
You can prevent boils by keeping your face as clean as possible and washing your hands regularly. You probably don’t realize how often you touch your face, but you can quickly reintroduce staph bacteria to a healing boil by not properly washing your hands.
If you use an antiseptic cleanser as a part of your acne-prevention regimen, continue using it, as it will help you prevent future boils. Otherwise, the New Zealand Dermatological Society recommends washing daily with antiseptic cleanser for one week and then twice weekly for several weeks to promote healing and prevent recurrence.
Avoid Spreading the Infection
You can spread your infection to others. If your boils begins to drain, cover it with sterile gauze. Change the sterile gauze periodically. Avoid contact sports and other situations in which others may come into contact with your boil until it heals. If you suffer from recurrent boils, see your doctor immediately, as this may be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes.
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