A boil is a raised red bump on the skin over a hair follicle. Boils are caused by bacteria entering the skin through a skin wound and will be sore and filled with pus.


Boils are very common. They are most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. They can also be caused by other types of bacteria or fungi found on the skin's surface. Damage to the hair follicle allows the infection to grow deeper into the follicle and the tissues under it.

Risk Factors

Boils may occur in the hair follicles anywhere on the body. They are most common on the face, neck, armpit, buttocks, and thighs. You may have 1 or many boils.


Boils begin as a tender, pinkish-red, and swollen area of the skin. The pain gets worse over time when it fills with pus. Pain can be relieved when the boil is drained, they can drain on its own but often needs to be opened.

A boil can be characterized as a bump the size of a pea, but can be as large as a golf ball, it has a white or yellow center (pustules), they often have a quick growth, and also sometimes oozing or crusting can occur.


Mayo Clinic


Diagnosis and Treatment

Health care providers can usually diagnose a boil by looking at it. A sample of cells from the boil may be taken to look for staphylococcus or other bacteria.

Boils may heal on their own after a period of itching and mild pain. More often, they become more painful as pus builds up.

Boils usually need to open and drain in order to heal. This most often happens within 2 weeks. To help aid draining you can apply warm, moist compresses to speed up the draining process. You should never squeeze or cut a boil as this can cause the infection to spread.

If a boil lasts longer than 2 weeks, comes back, or causes pain you should get treatment from a healthcare professional. Also see a professional is you have a boil on your spine or face or if you have a fever and other symptoms with the boil.

Antibacterial soaps and creams cannot help much once a boil has formed.


Antibacterial soaps, antiseptics, and maintaining good hygiene can help to prevent boils.


Mayo Clinic


Boils Videos
menu btn