Skin Boils and Carbuncles: Who’s At Risk?

Boils and carbuncles occur in every city and place in the world. Anyone, including otherwise healthy people, can develop one or more of the many types of boils. Usually boils start as as small red marks that become hard and infected, but commonly they heal without medical care. But if you notice your boil doesn’t resolve itself, you should visit your local health care provider or doctor.

Boil Risk Factors

Although boils can affect anyone, a couple of factors do increase your risk of developing a skin boil or carbuncle. You are more susceptible to boils and carbuncles if you:

  • Have previously had boils or carbuncles
  • Suffer from HIV, AIDS, liver disease, or kidney disease
  • Have diabetes
  • Wear clothes that irritate or rub against your skin
  • Have other skin conditions, such as acne or dermatitis
  • Use immune-suppressing medications, such as corticosteroids
  • Work with oily products, like Vaseline or glycerin

Other Risks

Although the staph bacteria is the common cause of skin boils and carbuncles, a virulent strain of the staph bacteria called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureas (MRSA) often causes recurrent skin boils and carbuncles. You are at a risk of getting MRSA if you:

  • Share IV needles
  • Visit health-care facilities regularly
  • Live in crowded conditions, such as military barracks
  • Neglect hygiene
  • Use contaminated objects, like a towel
  • Come into skin-to-skin contact with someone with MRSA

If you are concerned whether or not MRSA is the cause of your skin boil, visit your local health care provider or doctor.