anybody know about boils caused by staph infection?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by muttmeister, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    difficult child#2 has repeatedly gotten something looking like a boil on his legs, groin, etc. It starts like a bug bite, gets red and sore, and gets a white core that eventually comes out. He has doctored for this several times. They have taken cultures and say it is some kind of staph infection. He has another one. He just got back from the doctor and she says they can treat the boil with antibiotics but that there is nothing they can do to treat the underlying staph infection and that he will continue to get these for the next 75 years or however long he lives. Does that sound right? I never heard of such a thing. I suggested that next time he should try another doctor but if she is right I guess it won't make any difference. Anybody have any experience with this?
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Unfortunately, in my experiance, she is right. You can treat the boil, but they do come back repeatly.

    Having him wash with an antibacterial soap like Safeguard might help to decrease the outbreaks. He should make sure he scrubs well when he bathes. (boys especially tend not to do that)

    husband gets them from time to time. Actually, he has one at the base of his neck right now. A usual spot for him. I'm waiting for it to come to a head. I wish husband would at least try the Safeguard. (he says it dries his skin too much) I know people it has helped.

    Not a fun thing to deal with.

  3. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I've only had one in my life on my arm when I was a kid. That thing was like a ping pong ball.

    No advice. Seems like they could treat a staph infection. Sorry for the pain!!

  4. babybear

    babybear New Member

    Try Cetaphil anti-bacterial soap. It's just as effective but lots easier on the skin. Wash twice a day and with active boils you can use peroxide once a day. Try a good powder for prevention as sweating and chafing are a big contributer. I like [ame=""]this one[/ame] just because the name makes me chuckle :redface:
  5. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I never heard about coming back repeatedly........I only know my difficult child has had this many times, and the docs are always really concerned, and put him on the highest dose of antibiotic possible.

    Now that I am thinking of it, you can be a carrier of strep throat, so maybe you can be a carrier of staph?

    Our doctor said the same thing. Wash with anti-bacterial soap, bathe frequently, etc. Be careful and diligent, staph can be deadly.
  6. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Be very careful with these! difficult child 3 got one on the back of her leg, which was treated with antibiotics. We got it in time thank God, but were told to watch it carefully for MRSA (flesh eating disease).

    husband got one on his arm. It looked like a spider bite that got infected. It got bigger and bigger, so he went to the Dr. who put him on antibiotics, drew a line around it and told him that if the swelling went outside the circle or the redness, call him. If we saw lines coming out, that means blood poisoning so get to the ER so that sepsis wouldn't kick in.

    Sure enough, the swelling went outside the circle, so the surgeon cut it out (you could see the muscle inside the hole - it was sort of cool looking - sorry if that's gross!), and we had to flush it with saline for 2 weeks and recover.

    If it looks bigger or worse get him to a doctor right away. Personally, I'd go for a second opinion on the staph infection, it might be able to be treated with an antibiotic.
  7. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    I only had one once, smack dab in the middle of my cheek. I know my parents made me put black sav on it? and it hurt alot and yes the core was white and large enough to take someone's eye out if I aimed! Poor kid, hot tea bags are also supposed Occupational Therapist (OT) help draw out the infection and ease the swelling.
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Warning: This may be a little too much information, but I want to share my experience with Muttmeister.

    I've had chronic boils under my breasts for at least 10 years. I also get them occasionally under my arms, on my upper inner thigh, and even on my backside (where the cheeks meet, LOL) but the ones on my chest are HORRENDOUS. I've had so many that I will be forever scarred there. It's to the point where when they appear in the same place over & over, they don't even hurt much anymore, only when they are in a new place on my skin. I'm VERY overweight, and they pop up wherever I have skin/skin contact.

    They tell you not to pop them. Well, guess what. Sometimes they hurt SO bad you just have to. I've become an expert at using a sterilized pin and poking the "head" of the boil, and it does not hurt a bit. If you squeeze it like a zit, sometimes it hurts like heck. Usually the head is a sweat gland or hair follicle (here is the too much information part) and the pin glides in, breaking just the top layer of skin. It oozes pus and blood sometimes for 5 minutes.

    In the past I have been prescribed PhisoHex (a RX strength version of the old PhisoDerm) but it never worked. I've used antibacterial soaps. I've used Gold Bond powder. I've used something called "draw out salve", which is a tube of dark brown goo that smells as bad as it looks. You apply it to the boil and it helps bring it "to a head". It did work on the stubborn ones that would not burst.

    I just happened to mention it to my doctor last Thursday, and she told me she has never seen anything like it. It is SO bad. She prescribed me an antibiotic. I am on day 4 and it is not helping in the least. I have a new crop today of two matching ones; one on the outside of each boob. Lovely. It's like, a bra hurts to wear, but if I go without (as I do when I am home), the sweat makes it worse. I can't win.

    I do hope you find something to at least ease the pain, because it is a killer. My doctor did also recommend NeoSporin or any antibacterial balm.
  9. outofcontrolinaz

    outofcontrolinaz New Member

    I too have had many boils over the years and they are very painful I also pop them when they come to a head. There is this stuff I buy called boil ease that has worked it at least takes the pain away for the most part it also comes in a generic form. I also use antibacterial soap but in the body wash walmart carries an equate form and it does not seem to dry out my skin so you might want to try that. Applying warm to mildly hot compresses helps a bit to makes the boil come to a head faster. Because the faster it comes to a head the sooner it will be gone.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    OK, biologist here.

    We ALL carry staph. At least, we do if we ever had pimples in our teens. Pimples are caused primarily by staph. To be more precise, Staphylococcus aureus (aka "golden staph").

    These infections (including pimples) generally take hold around a sweat gland or hair follicle, or other break in the skin. We all know the drill.

    Occasionally when conditions are especially favourable (to the bugs) a pimple grows to boil proportions. Warm, moist areas are ideal incubation. Washing regularly and getting air to the place would help. It's summer - get him to wear a caftan. Or a kilt, and go without knickers entirely. difficult child 1 calls it "commando style"; or "letting the boys out for some air".

    Staph infections CAN become a problem when it gets to the boil stage. Yes, a staph boil (ANY staph boil) can get into the bloodstream and go septic. You should be on antibiotics at that stage.

    Staph infections are generally extremely painful - I remember when easy child was getting one on her finger (through an almost microscopic split in her skin) she was crying in pain and we couldn't see a mark on her. Next morning, there was a tiny white dot and her finger was red and swelling up. I lanced the tiny white dot (I use a hypodermic needle for the job - much kinder than a pin). To sterilise a lance, pass it through the flame of an alcohol burner or a lighter. It works for microbiologists...

    MRSA is a particular "breed" of Staph aureus, in the same way that Dalmation is a spotted dog (but is still a dog that eats dog food,chases a ball, will interbreed with any other kind of dog). MRSA has developed in the world because of over-use of antibiotics. We've done it to ourselves, folks. You're not likely to have MRSA unless you've either contracted it somehow (usually from places where it is most commonly found, such as hospitals) or magically developed your own strain of it (most unlikely). "MRSA" stands for "Methycillin-Resistant Staph Aureus". It used to stand for "Multi-Resistant Staph Aureus". There are other multi-resistant bacteria which are even more of a worry.

    In your body, MRSA will do exactly what any Staph aureus will do, and nothing more. It's no more virulent. It's just that if a doctor feels you should take antibiotics for your staph, the antibiotics won't work too well, if your infection is MRSA. You need your body to do the job. In most cases, your own body defences will deal with it. It's mainly a problem in people with compromised immune systems.

    Streptococcus is another bug we get so often they virtually live in us permanently. If you are prone to regular sore throats, you may well be harbouring a constant low-grade Strep B infection. Again, no need to take antibiotics unless it's bothering you, or you live with someone with a compromised immune system.
    Strep B lives in your airways. It's a very important reason for surgeons to wear those face masks. If you ever see a surgeon with his nose poking over his mask, get cranky with him. It's not on. That's how patients can get Strep B infecting their wounds, and that can be nasty. Watch those reality TV medical shows (especially the plastic surgery ones) and then think about how many people get post-op wound infections...

    Now, Strep B lives in airways mainly. Lots of air. Lots of oxygen. Staph aureus lives on the skin, mostly. Lots of air, lots of oxygen. These are bacteria which are reproducing AEROBICALLY (ie in oxygen). It's what our body defences are used to. We live in balance with the bugs.

    BUT - when they get past our skin (the first line of defence) we begin to have problems. That's when these bugs can begin to multiply ANAEROBICALLY (ie without oxygen). Yes, they can do it. They are adaptable little suckers.

    If you have a staph boil, it hurts a lot. It produces a lot of thick pus in a short time and this builds pressure; plus the pain receptors in the area are all firing off and tissues are swollen. OUCH. If it burrows in deeper and heads for the lymphatic system, you will see the redness running along the lymphatic channels like red lines. Get thee to a doctor fast, for antibiotics.

    Now, if you are darned unlucky (and/or had a sore throat when you began picking at the boil or when the boil was forming) you can get Strep B bugs in there as well. Remember, these are ordinary, otherwise fairly safe bugs. But together, growing anaerobically in a boil, it can become flesh-eating time. THAT is what you really have to watch for.

    What does it look like?
    when the two bugs are working together, you will find over time that the centre of the boil will be open and looking like it's healing. You will have either lanced it or it will have broken, by this time. And that is good - it gets air to it. Once the bugs are dividing without oxygen, the oxygen becomes like a poison to them.
    So the centre of the boil will be exposed and red but no longer much pus. A scab may form but it will not have anything to hang onto, so it keeps coming away.

    The worrying part is the edge, where you can get the most pus formation. If the skin over this area is looking moist and soggy, then you could have Strep B in there as well. The two bugs work to first separate the skin away form the tissues underneath (the strep does this) then the staph creates a lot of pus to force it away further. The Strep then moves in a bit deeper, now that Staph has forced a bit more room. And so on - it will keep growing, widening the margin.

    This is what happened to easy child when she got that boil on her finger. That's when our microbiologist neighbour taught me all this, and I taught the doctor (who did know it, but he didn't know the microbiologist's tricks). It can be very frightening when this happens, especially to your child. You see the boil grow almost while you look at it. Remember, easy child's started with an almost microscopic dot on her finger, but within a couple of days the thing was the size of a postage stamp and doubling in size every day.

    Diagnosis - these days most pathology tests are automated. There is plenty of pus to culture with these boils, but unless you ask for the tests to be done the right way, you could get a fairly borderline result because the standard tests do not think about these bugs growing without oxygen. It's unusual.
    So we were told to request it to be cultured for Staph A as well as Strep B, aerobically and anaerobically. About 12 years ago I got a boil on my finger like easy child's and was away from home (my mother's funeral) and had to explain to a doctor who didn't know me, how I wanted it cultured. I then had to explain that I was going to treat myself without antibiotics.

    Treatment - antibiotics (unless you're severely allergic, as I am). But since these infections can often be on an extremity (toe, or finger) where blood circulation isn't as good, antibiotics don't always work too well. This can scare you into thinking you have MRSA. So you need to improve your circulation - just keep the wound area warm, if it's on a limb.

    And now for the magic trick from the microbiologist. Run this past the doctor for assurance, but you can do this while taking antibiotics, it can only help.
    The trick is - heat, as hot as you can stand it, applied to the wound area, every three to four hours. Soaking a foot or hand with a boil in hot salty water is great. In my case, I walked around the motel with my finger in a glass of salty water, which I would reheat in the microwave oven every so often.
    You need to do the three to four hour trick at least three times in succession, on three consecutive days. Each time you do it, it interferes with the natural cell division (reproduction) of the bacteria. They have to start all over again. And if you do it to them AGAIN, they have to AGAIN start over. Enough times, and the bacteria get too old (too big) to divide and your body can finish the job.

    A warning - if you can, and the infection is serious enough, take the antibiotics. Take them according to directions or you risk developing a resistant bug in your body. Not good. Antibiotics should clear up one of these infections within two to three days. Finish the course anyway.
    The hot water method - it can take a week or more. You have to stick at it. It's good to do it to help the antibiotics (and the heat increases blood flow to the boil, which helps the antibiotics do their job even better). It's just that if you happen to have a resistant bug, and/or you can't take antibiotics, you can still beat the infection. It just is more difficult and takes longer.

    For those with an even more scientific bent, dabbing hydrogen peroxide on one of these boils can also help - it gives these anaerobic bugs a fast shot of oxygen. But do follow careful infection control procedures - do not back-contaminate your bottle of peroxide. Also be aware, that if you have the Staph-Strep combination, the peroxide won't reach all the bugs. Some of them will be hiding right at the margin of the wound, under that edge of soggy skin.

    Basically, for a bad boil or one that is growing, it's definitely see a doctor time, but not necessarily time to panic.

    by the way, I haven't had a Strep-Staph combo infection since. I regularly was getting a Staph infection beside my toenail, though, which I finally beat with a wedge resection.

  11. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Goodness my x gets around. :tongue: He's a boil on the arse of humanity.
  12. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    My daughter has had it twice and my son is on antibiotics right now for his second round. We believe his last round of staph (Feb 08) is what triggered his Type One Diabetes in March.

    You MUST go to the doctor and insist that they test the fluid for MRSA. If you do not test it, you do not know what it is resistant too, and they can give you the wrong antibiotic and it will grow and grow and could cause a lot of damage or worse...

    If you have it more than twice you MUST be tested as a carrier. If you are a carrier, you must go to an infectious disease doctor to get special treatment.

    Do NOT let a doctor down play how serious staph infections can be. Obviously, the majority are not life threatening but these things are mutating so quickly you can never be too cautious.

    My pediatrian lectured me and told me that I should have come in immediately when it looked like the pimple on my son's nose was not healing and could have been staph. He said it is too close to the brain. He gave him two antibiotic shots and told me to go directly to ER with any fever, confustion, swollen eyes....And this doctor doesn't not jump at every little aliment. I knew it was serious when he told me all this.
  13. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    That could be serious for difficult child as his have been on his butt and his groin and that seems to be near where his brain is located.

    OK, so I'm being facetious. But I couldn't resist.

    I suspect this all stems from when he was burned (he spent 6 weeks in the burn unit). He did have a couple of infections there (lost part of an ear, etc.). He has been doctoring for it but it sounds like maybe he should ask to see some kind of specialist. It is really a pain, especially now that he has a job; he is not the most conscientious worker to begin with and now, with doctor's appointments and being in actual pain, I don't know if he will keep his job or not. His boss is pretty understanding and difficult child is always dropping his pants to show people what he has so I suppose at least the boss knows he is not making it up.