Bacterial And Rickettsial Diseases Boils And Carbuncles

Published: 24th October 2011
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Boils are hard, red, painful, swellings, usually beginning as pimple or nodules about hair roots. They increase rapidly in size and develop "cores" in their centers. Carbuncles are unusually severe boils, usually with more than one core or head, accompanied by general illness and debility. Boils and carbuncles are caused by the same kind of germ-Staphylococcus aureus as a rule. To start a boil or carbuncle, the germs must gain entrance to an oil or sweat gland or hair follicle. It has often been notices, however that a general low level of resistance, a low metabolic rate, rubbing in of dirt by clothing, or diabetes paves the way for boils or carbuncles.
The core of a boil consists of innumerable bacteria intersperse with white blood cells. It tends to soften and form a thick liquid pus around it, which escapes through a break in the skin. The pus, containing living germs, may spread the infection and cause other boils if it comes in contact with unprotected skin. Warmth and moisture hasten the formation and breakdown of the core, and help to keep the skin soft so that the pus may more easily break through. If the sin is kept wt continually, however, it may become soft enough to encourage the spread of germs through it. Dressings wet with strong solutions of salt or other chemicals stimulate drainage of the pus from the tissues into the dressings. Following adequate drainage, a boil subsides quickly. Never squeeze or pick at a boil. The collection of germs in the forming core my be broken up and spread into surrounding tissues. The germs may even spread into the bloodstream, causing septicemia or "blood poisoning." The most dangerous spot in all the body for a boil to be located is the area marked out by the bridge of the nose, the corners of the mouth, and the outer corners of the eyes. This includes the inside of the nostrils. Many cases of fatal septicemia or meningitis have resulted from improper interference with boils or pimples in this area.
What To Do:
1. Immediately upon the appearance of a pimple which appears severe enough to develop into a boil-if it is not deep-seated and has a small yellow spot in the center-dip the point of a needle into tincture of iodine or carbolic acid and open pimple by thrusting the needle sideways through the yellow spot and lifting the needle. Do not press or squeeze. Wipe off the small amount of pus with a bit of sterile gauze or absorbent cotton. Apply 2 percent tincture of iodine to and around the opened pimple at once. This may abort the boil.
2. If the pimple is deep-seated, or if it does not have a definite yellow center, do not attempt to open it, but the paint it and the surrounding skin twice a day with 2 percent tincture of iodine. Let the solution dry on skin and apply no dressing of any kind for one hour. This will help to protect the surrounding skin from infection.
3. After the skin has been dry for an hour, apply dressings of several layers of gauze kept with a warm saturated solution of Epsom salts on a repeated schedule of two hour on and one hour off. The dressing may be covered with waxed paper, oiled silk, or plastic to prevent their drying out. It is helpful to keep warm by covering with hot water bottle with a layer or two of Turkish toweling between dressing and bottle.
4. The pain of the boil will be considerably relieved if the treatment outlined in (2) or (3) above is followed, and the boil will probably come to a head and break within a few days. If instrumental opening becomes necessary, it is better to have a physician do it.
5. Penicillin injections and sulfadiazine by mouth are recommended for a carbuncle or a severe boil. The use of these requires the supervision of a physician.
6. It is wise to keep a wide area of skin surrounding the boil disinfected by frequent applications of rubbing alcohol or mild tincture of iodine, as described in (2) above, to prevent the germs in the pus from getting a foothold in the skin and starting new boils.

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