Is there a way to reduce or eliminate frequent episodes of boils?
—CECELIA CLARKE, NP-C, Smithfield, Va.

Repeat episodes of boils often occur in patients with chronic furunculosis and result from recurrent hair-follicle abscesses secondary to Staphylococcus aureus. Conditions that predispose patients to chronic furunculosis include certain granulocytic or immunologic diseases, chronic renal dialysis, diabetes mellitus, IV drug abuse, and obesity. Long-term therapy with topical and systemic antibiotics and improved personal hygiene can eliminate staphylococcal skin or nasal carriage as well as prevent recurrent lesional episodes. Systemic antibiotic management may be based on the culture-defined antimicrobial susceptibilities of the bacterial strain. Topical agents useful for cleansing the skin include betadine 10% solution and chlorhexidine 4% solution (J Dermatolog Treat. 2007;18:105-108).
—Philip R. Cohen, MD