Boils on the back
A boil on the back is a painful inflammation of the skin. The starting point for the boil is a hair follicle in which bacteria multiply and which then becomes inflamed. Boils can grow up to several inches in size and are usually extremely sensitive to pressure. The boil lies as a painful lump in the skin and can be easily recognized as a red pustule with a purulent head.
A boil on the back always starts from a hair follicle. Boils can therefore in principle develop anywhere on the body where there is hairy skin. The cause of a boil is the inflammation of a hair follicle and the associated sebum. Bacteria reach the deep layers of the skin via the hair follicle, multiply there and cause an inflammatory reaction that spreads to the surrounding tissue. Usually these are bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus (Staphylococcus aureus). Staphylococci are inhabitants of the normal human skin flora and normally have no disease value. However, if they get into the deeper skin layers through small wounds and injuries, they cause purulent inflammation there.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of a boil on the back. This includes wearing tight-fitting clothing that chafs the skin and thus allows bacteria to penetrate. An intact immune system is important for fighting pathogens. Therefore, people who suffer from immunodeficiency, such as people with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus or people with HIV, have an increased risk of developing boils. However, poor hygiene can also lead to the development of boils on the back.
Read more about the causes on our website Causes of Boils
A boil on the back can be diagnosed by its typical appearance. The boil is recognizable as a small red pustule, in the middle of which there is a white-yellowish pus head.
In the advanced stages, the boil can increase in size and spread into the deeper layers of the skin. In the case of large boils, a puncture of the purulent secretion can also be carried out for laboratory-medical identification of the pathogen.
The boil manifests itself as a painful lump on the back. The affected area is extremely sensitive to pressure and very red. The boil is bulging with pus and the surrounding skin is warm to the touch. Above a certain size, the boil breaks through the skin and the purulent contents drains outwards by itself. The inflammation then heals quickly, leaving a small scar. More rarely, the boil regresses without spontaneous emptying.
If several boils appear close together, this is known as carbuncle. Boils on the back are usually harmless and do not trigger any symptoms other than tenderness and pain.
However, if the inflammation is very severe, the patient may feel ailing and sick. A slightly increased temperature can also occur. If the bacteria from the boils get into the lymphatic system, the lymphatic system becomes inflamed (lymphangitis) and the regional lymph nodes (lymphadenitis). It becomes problematic if the bacteria get further into the blood vessels and lead to life-threatening blood poisoning (sepsis) there.
You may also be interested in this topic: Abscess on the back
What's the best way to remove the boil?
Treatment for a boil is based on the severity of the inflammation. Small boils do not need to be specially removed, they will heal on their own. Large boils and very painful lumps deep under the skin should be removed by a doctor.
The doctor removes the boil on your back through a small surgical procedure. The boil is cut open and the pus drained to the outside. Then the affected area is rinsed with an antiseptic and the small wound is masked. If the boil is not yet ripe, that is, if the head of pus is not yet on the surface, the doctor can prescribe a pulling ointment. The pull ointment is applied to the inflammation and improves blood flow to the tissues, due to which the boil matures. The ripe boil sometimes drains spontaneously or is cut open by the doctor.
Should you express the boil on the back?
If you have large boils on your back, you should never push around yourself. Otherwise there is a risk that the bacteria will be squeezed into the surrounding tissue and the inflammation will spread even further. In the worst case, the pathogens can even get into the bloodstream through pushing around and lead to life-threatening complications, such as blood poisoning with multiple organ failure or a brain abscess.
As soon as the boil breaks through the skin and the purulent contents have emptied, the inflammation heals quickly and without complications within a few days. However, several days, sometimes weeks, can pass before the boil is ripe. A pull ointment promotes the maturation of the boil and accelerates healing.
Also read the article: The duration of a boil.
Home remedies for boils on the back
There are a number of home remedies that can be used to treat pesky boils on the back or other parts of the body. A paste made from water and healing earth (available in any drugstore or pharmacy) can be applied to the affected area. It is best to apply the paste thickly and leave it on the boil for about 15-20 minutes. The healing clay accelerates the healing process and soothes the inflamed skin.
Alternatively, a compress with tea tree oil or thyme oil can be applied. Various herbal active ingredients promote the ripening process of a boil and thus accelerate the spontaneous evacuation of the pus.
Cooked flax seeds or chamomile flowers are particularly suitable for this. The cooked seeds or herbs are put in a small cloth and placed on the boil. You can also simply pour hot water over a bag of chamomile tea, squeeze it out and then put it on.
You can find more tips on our site Treatment of boils