Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis
Furunculosis is a condition causing deep sores of the skin, also known as boils. Furuncles are painful, deep bacterial infections of hair follicles. The usual cause is infection, usually from Staphylococcus bacteria, that begins in the hair follicle and penetrates into deeper skin layers. Furunculosis is very uncommon in young children, but it occurs more frequency after puberty. Transmission from individual to individual can occur if contact is made with drainage of pus from a furuncle. The furuncle begins as a deep, tender, firm, red papule which enlarges rapidly into a tender, deepseated nodule that remains painful. With appropriate treatment, the infection can be eradicated.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Pain becomes more intense as the furuncle enlarges. Furuncles can appear suddenly and are usually 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter; some are larger. The furuncle either remains deep and reabsorbs or it will rupture through to the surface of the skin. The point of rupture heals with scarring. Without treatment, the infection may enter the bloodstream and spread to other body parts.

Warm moist compresses provide comfort and encourage localization and pointing of the abscess; apply three or four times daily for 20 minutes each time. Your physician may incise and drain the furuncle when the skin over the furuncle becomes thin and the mass underneath is soft. Without treatment, the furuncle will heal in 10–20 days. With treatment, furuncles will heal in less time and symptoms will be less severe. A potential complication of treatment is that the pus that drains when the furuncle opens spontaneously may contaminate nearby skin, causing new furuncles.

The DOs
• Do take prescribed antibiotics.
• Do decrease activity until the infection heals. Avoid sweating and contact sports while furuncles are present.
• Do keep the skin clean.
The DON’Ts
•Don’t use nonprescription antibiotic creams or ointments on the furuncle’s surface because they are ineffective.
• Don’t share towels, washcloths, or clothing with other household members.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If fever occurs or symptoms do not improve in 3 or 4 days, despite treatment.
• If new furuncles appear or furuncles develop in other family members.