Mystery lumps are scary. Sometimes you get a strange bump that looks like acne, but just a little different to the other pimples you’ve had. Did you just bump your arm, or do you have the plague? It’s nice to know what you’re being told when listening to your skin.
I’m going to help put your mind at ease by pointing out the difference between acne and their big rosy imitators, boils. Boils act like acne but seem different because, well, they are. And if you don’t know how to treat them, they can grow into a pain.
First, the difference.
Acne is an inflammation of the skin glands. But have you noticed they appear in different ways? There’s a whole rainbow of skin inflammations, such as ...
Whiteheads. Boils look a bit like these. The inflamed patch of skin fills with white blood cells and bacteria, and becomes a lump. You can also get pauples and pustules, which are noticeably red and painful.
There’s still the white pus core, but they grow bigger and are generally soft to the touch. Nodules are similar but appear as skin coloured lumps because they’re in there deep.
These pimples like to rebel. Where whiteheads are closed, they rise around a pore and keep it open at the top. In that pore you can see black dirt and bacteria instead of the white core.
Boils are an inflammation of the hair follicles. If your lump is red but doesn’t quite look like a whitehead, it could be a boil.
This is an inflamed hair follicle. A certain kind of bacteria that we all have on our skin gets into the hair and starts to irritate you (a third of us have it in our noses too). Boils don’t do any harm unless they grow into the deeper skin tissue. Then you can get a serious infection.
It may be tempting to squeeze, but most boils pop themselves after a while.
We’ve written about boils and a similar inflammation called carbuncles - check out the SkinB5 blog on buttne. The word carbuncle reminds me of going to my uncle’s place on Sunday when there’s a gigantic pot of spaghetti for the whole family, but this ball of pain isn’t quite so friendly. It’s when a few boils cluster together and make something that probably won’t go away until you get surgery or pills.
Boils are also known by their more fun name, furuncles. The word furuncle reminds me of that one hairy uncle everyone has. If your uncle gets boils on his impressive pelt-like shoulders, try sending him this article. He’s especially at risk if he’s over 40, diabetic or doesn’t get much nutrition besides carbs.
Now that you know your acne and boils, you can keep an eye on it to make sure it’s going away and not morphing into something horrible. If unsure, ask your doctor.
Still, your body does a great job of washing away angry red lumps and other toxins while you sleep. Make sure you’re staying healthy and getting sleep. Heal yourself from the inside - try some SkinB5 Acne Control Extra Strength Tablets with plenty of water. Picking and popping too much can leave scars, so it’s good to let those boils leave when they’re ready.
The skin around the boil turns red or red streaks appear.
The pain becomes severe.
The boil does not drain.
A second boil appears.
You have a heart murmur, diabetes, any problem with your immune system, or use immune-suppressing drugs (for example, corticosteroids or chemotherapy) and you develop a boil.
Boils usually do not need immediate emergency attention. However, if you are in poor health and you develop high fever and chills along with the infection, a trip to a hospital's emergency room is needed.