Boils or furuncles are formed when there is an infection in the hair follicle on your skin or an oil gland. This causes a small red bump to appear on your skin that is painful and then starts to accumulate pus, thus turning yellowish or white in color.

The skin around the boil can become tender and swollen and the whole area can be slightly painful because of this. The boil might also increase in size as time goes by. The boils that increase in size are mostly pus-filled nodules(1).

These boils are caused because of a germ called staphylococcal bacteria. This bacteria might enter the skin through tiny cuts or incisions, in case you have a cut and your skin isn’t healing correctly if you have an open wound or anything else of that type, the bacteria could enter your skin and infect the hair follicles.

Commonly these boils are found on the neck, face, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. When the boils appear in a cluster then it means that the infection could be more severe and it’s now called carbuncles.

Carbuncles are infections of the pores of the skin and hair follicles.
Carbuncles are infections of the pores of the skin and hair follicles.

There could be a number of causes for this, in case the individual has a fever or diabetes it could cause a boil on the skin. The other causes can be ingrown hair that can cause a painful boil, clogged pores can also be another reason for boils. Sometimes when there is a splinter or any other external object lodged in your skin, it could also cause a boil.

This kind of bacteria breeds and grows in environments that are moist, hence boils can be commonly seen during summer. When a hair follicle is infected and causes a typical boil we call it a furuncle. A poor immune system, poor hygiene habits could also cause furuncles to occur on the skin. People who have diabetes or are obese might be more prone to furuncles than others since they have reduces resistance.(2)

A pimple and a boil may look similar to each other. They both also stem from the same reasons that being clogged pores, and follicles. A pimple can be painful and be pus-filled as well, but a pimple is not an infection or a severe kind of infection of the pores as compared to the boil.

Also read: How to to reduce redness from Pimples?

In case the infection is severe, then it may cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, in which case you would have to visit a doctor. Furuncles can also appear inside your mouth and are called intraoral dental sinus, or gumboil; when it appears on your eyelids it’s called a stye.

There are complications that could arise from furuncles. Unfortunately, the bacteria that causes this infection can get into your bloodstream and affect other parts of your body as well. Furuncles can be contagious, however, that’s when the infection spreads through the blood it could cause more of them to occur in different parts of your body.

You might encounter furuncles from another person who has a boil caused due to infection if you share the same kind of clothing or are in close proximity to them.

For diagnosis there are no specific tests, the doctor might just have to do a physical examination or culture of the lesion.


Boils usually clear up on their own and need no interference in that case. The pus could drain out, at which time you need to be careful and clean it well so that the infection doesn’t increase. Don’t try to pick the boils or poke it with a needle; this could definitely make the infection worse.

If you want to prevent boils then there are a few things that you can do. Since most of them occur where the skin is moist such as armpits and inner thighs, make sure you keep these areas clean and as dry as possible (3).

Wear the right kind of clothing, preferably cotton especially during summers. If you have a wound or any kind of cut make sure you take care of it properly so that it heals in the right way. Keep a bandage on in case you feel like the wound is an open one and is susceptible to being infected.

Medically, a blood test might be done to test the infection and the severity of it if you have a boil that hasn’t drained out for a while now. In addition to that, if the infection is indeed severe, then antibiotics might be prescribed.

In case you want to decrease the pain, a hot compress always works, you can use antibacterial soaps or natural ingredients such as Neem and turmeric to help cool the skin and reduce bacteria.

What are Boils called in Hindi?

They are called फोड़े in Hindi.

Are boils painful?

Yes, they are painful

Why do Boils keep coming back?

An individual can have recurring boils when they are carriers of the bacteria that causes them, this happens when the bacteria move into your bloodstream.

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