Boils: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


You may have had a boil if you’ve ever experienced a painful, red bump on your skin. While boils can be uncomfortable and unsightly, they can improve with simple non-surgical methods. Read this article to learn more.

What Are Boils?

Boils are infections that occur in a localized area of the skin. They typically appear as red, swollen, tender bumps filled with pus. Boils can occur anywhere on the body, but usually on the: 

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Buttocks

In some cases, multiple boils may happen in the same area, known as a carbuncle. A variety of factors can cause boils, including: 

  • Bacterial infections
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Foreign objects 

An underlying medical condition such as diabetes or a weakened immune system may also cause them.

How to Treat Boils

If you have a boil, it is essential not to attempt to squeeze or drain it yourself. This can lead to the spread of the infection and may cause further complications. Instead, you may be able to treat the boil by placing a warm compress directly over the affected area several times a day. This can help to reduce inflammation and encourage the boil to drain naturally. 

If the boil does not improve or becomes more painful, you should seek medical attention from a dermatologist. A dermatologist can evaluate the boil and determine the best course of treatment. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection in some cases. In other cases, incision and drainage may be necessary to remove the pus and alleviate symptoms.

How to Prevent Boils

Practice good hygiene and avoid behaviors that may increase the risk of infection to prevent boils. This includes washing your hands frequently, avoiding sharing personal items such as towels and clothing, and keeping wounds or cuts clean and covered. 

You may also want to consider boosting your immune system through a healthy diet and exercise regimen if you are prone to boils. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms of a boil. 

Dr. Steve Musick and his team of dermatology professionals at Musick Dermatology & Advanced Clinical Spa in Swansea, IL, are dedicated to providing high-quality care for all skin conditions. Contact us at 618-628-2588 to schedule an appointment. Most health insurance programs are accepted.

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