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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Boils Boils

Boils usually appear
as red and swollen
with a pus pocket
visible at its center.


A boil is an infection that begins deep within the skin. A boil, also known as a skin abscess can become swollen and painful. Boils appear as a firm raised area on the skin. They often appear red and are sore. They may feel hard like a small lump or nodule.

Boils can appear on any part of the body but are often found on the back, face, shoulders and thighs. Like a big pimple, a boil fills with pus and when it is ready to drain a white or yellow point in the center of the boil will be visible.

Boils can be caused by an ingrown hair or a clogged sebaceous (sweat) gland. Boils are most often caused by a staph infection, or a bacteria known as staphylococcus which enters through a break in the skin. People with poor hygiene are also often prone to boils. People who suffer from certain health conditions such as diabetes, impaired immune system, or malnutrition may also be susceptible.

Boil symptoms and treatment

Symptoms of a boil include redness around the affected site. The area is sore and tender and many contain slight swelling at the site of the boil. Some people experience itching of the skin before the boil actually appears. The boil remains painful until the pus is drained.

A boil may be treated by applying warm compresses to the area or soaking the affected area in warm water to encourage it to drain on its own. The warmth helps the body to fight infection and increases circulation. The warm water can also help to sooth the area and alleviate pain. To ensure against infection, boils may also be treated with over-the-counter antibiotic ointments like Bacitracin or Neosporin.

When to see a doctor

You should see your health care provider if the boil is large, doesn't drain on its own, or seems to get worse. If redness or swelling increases seek medical attention. Prescription antibiotics may be needed for the infection. A boil may need to be lanced and drained. The physician will numb the site of the boil with a local anesthetic and make an incision in the boil so that it can be drained. The area is then covered with gauze and allowed to heal. Once it has been drained the area will become less painful. If an antibiotic is prescribed, be sure to finish all of the medication to prevent re-occurrence.

also see ->
Skin Care & Beauty Tips

More information about boil treatment around the Web:

Boils - (Skin Abcesses)
- guide to prevention, causes and treatment, with related resources and photo gallery.

Home Remedies for Boils - Find out about more remedies and homemade poultices from the kitchen or medicine cabinet in this user-generated topic at


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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