A blood-filled boil is an infection of the hair follicle or oil gland surrounding the skin. It starts as a red lump and then gets filled up with pus mixed with blood as white blood cells rush in to attack the infection.
The staphylococcal bacterium causes blood-filled boils. This germ is usually present on healthy skin and gains entry into the skin through grazes and cuts. After gaining entry into the surface, they trigger infections such as boils.
Certain health problems make people susceptible to skin infections. The risk factors include:
- Poor nutrition
- Diabetes mellitus
- Intravenous drug use
- Infection with community-acquired methicillin-resistant
- Weakened immune system
- Poor hygiene
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
- Taking part in sports that are physical such as rugby or wrestling where a combination of close personal contact, sweating and frequent friction of the skin is involved.
The other risk factors for contacting blood-filled boils include close contact with individuals who have actively infected blood filled boils as well as pre-existing skin conditions such as scabies and atopic eczema.
Symptoms of boils:
Symptoms of blood-filled boils are primarily a hard, red, painful pus and blood filled bump typically less than an inch in size. Over the coming days, the lump gets softer, bigger and more painful. A pocket of pus that is yellow or white mixed with blood forms at the tip of the blood-filled boil. Symptoms of advanced infections include:
- Red, painful and swollen skin around the first one
- Swollen lymph nodes near the boil
When to seek medical attention:
- The pain becomes severe
- You start running a fever
- You have swollen lymph nodes
- The skin around the blood-filled boil turns red or red streaks appear
- The boil does not drain
- Another boil appears near the original one
- If you have diabetes, heart murmur or any other problem with your immune system or are using immune-suppressing drugs such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids.
- A boil that shows no sign of healing after two weeks
- A secondary infection such as cellulitis
- If you are in poor health and develop high chills and fever along with blood filled boil, a trip to your doctor is necessary.
- A moderate to large boil that feels spongy and soft to touch
- A boil that appears on your spine since it can cause serious complications
Where a blood-filled boil forms:
Hairy, sweaty areas are the prone sites as well as areas of friction such as inner thighs. Blood-filled boils can form anywhere on the body. They are most common on the armpits, back, shoulders, buttocks, face and neck. Blood filled boils can also develop around the nose and ear.
Who is affected?
Boils are usually common in young adults and teenagers, particularly in males. Young males who live in crowded and unhygienic conditions are most at risk.
Are blood-filled boils contagious?
Blood-filled boils are not contagious. The bacteria that causes it can be quickly spread through contaminated objects and skin-to-skin contact. Note that these bacteria are not harmful unless they get into the skin. To prevent the spread of the bacteria, avoid sharing sports gear, towel, clothes and bedding while having a blood-filled boil. You should cover the boil and avoid touching it. Moreover, ensure that you frequently wash your hands to help stop the spread of bacteria.
Your health care provider is always in a position to diagnose a blood-filled boil by examining it.
Further testing will have to be done if;
- You have multiple boils
- A weakened immune system that is caused by conditions such as diabetes mellitus, or is under treatments such as chemotherapy
- The blood-filled boil is not responding to treatment. This means that the blood-filled boil may be as a result of a bacteria other than staph bacteria.
Most blood-filled boils do not usually need medical treatment since they can be treated at home.
Home therapies should only be applied on small boils. Bigger blood-filled boils larger than a pea, or has plenty of redness around it, should be treated by a doctor.
- Apply warm compresses and soak the boil in warm water. This will decrease the pain and aid in drawing out the pus to the surface for the blood-filled boil to rupture. The head will then burst with repeated soaking. The blood-filled boil will break after a maximum of seven days of its appearance.
- When a blood-filled boil begins to drain, clean it with soap until all the pus is cleared out. You can then apply a dry and clean bandage.
- Make sure to use a warm compress and clean the infected area three times each day until the wound heals.
- Under no circumstance should you pop a blood-filled boil with a needle. You will only succeed in worsening the infection.
- You can get over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve any pain caused by a blood-filled boil.
- Contact your doctor if the affected area looks like it is getting infected again or turns red.
In these cases, your doctor may use a cotton swab to take a tissue sample from the blood-filled boil for it to be examined under a microscope. This process will determine the most suitable antibiotic. Furthermore, you may be asked to take a blood test to see if you have underlying health conditions such as diabetes which may be the reason you are developing boils frequently.
If you want to get rid of scars caused by a blood-filled boil, there are a number of treatment options such as plastic surgery, pressure dressing that helps in flattening and softening the scar and corticosteroid injections that aids in flattening a raised scar.
Preventing blood-filled boils:
- Clean and treat minor skin wounds
- Wash beddings, towels and clothes of a family member who is infected with boils carefully
- Use a separate towel and face cloth
- Practice excellent personal hygiene
- Stay as healthy as possible by drinking plenty of water and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid going to places like swimming baths, gyms and saunas until the wound heals completely.
- Regularly changing the bandage covering a blood-filled boil
Preventing infections from spreading to other parts of your body and other people is vital.