(Carbuncle; Furuncle; Cutaneous Abscess; Skin Abscess; Abscess, Cutaneous; Abscess, Skin)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
A boil is a red, swollen, painful bump under the skin. It often starts in an infected hair follicle. Bacteria form an abscess or pocket of pus. Boils can occur anywhere. They are most common on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, groin, and thighs.
There are several types:
Causes of boils may be:
Things that raise the risk of a boil are:
A boil may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. The boil may be swabbed and tested for bacteria.
Treatment depends on the severity of the boils and if there are other health problems. Some boils drain on their own. Others can spread and cause serious problems.
Options may be:
To lower the risk of a boil:
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Public Health Agency of Canada
College of Family Physicians of Canada
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Boils. DermNet New Zealand website. Available at: https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/boils. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Hidradenitis suppurativa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hidradenitis-suppurativa . Accessed January 29, 2021.
Nodulocystic acne. DermNet New Zealand website. Available at: https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/nodulocystic-acne. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Nowicka D, Grywalska E. Staphylococcus aureus and host immunity in recurrent furunculosis. Dermatology. 2019;235(4):295-305.
Pilonidal disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pilonidal-disease. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Skin abscesses, furuncles, and carbuncles. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/skin-abscesses-furuncles-and-carbuncles . Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 2/24/2021
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