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by: Patricia Pontejos-Canivel, MD, DPDS

Boils are caused by a bacterial infection of the hair follicle. It presents as a painful red nodule on the skin that can start draining pus. This condition usually develops in areas that are prone to perspiration, friction and occlusion:

  • Underarms
  • Buttocks
  • Neck
  • Thighs

There are some factors that can predispose a person to developing boils such as:

  • Immunosuppression 
  • Taking oral steroids
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Some boils may resolve on its own but if you are experiencing the following, consult a board- Dermatologist immediately:

  • Progressing pain and swelling around the boil
  • Fever
  • Recurrent or multiple boils
  • A history of chronic skin conditions like Atopic dermatitis
  • Immunosuppression 

Here are some tips to manage a boil at home: 

  • Good Hygiene is important: Regular and proper bathing habits, wearing loose and light clothing, keeping areas that are prone to perspiration clean and dry
  • Apply a warm compress over the boil: Use a clean cloth and apply for 10 mins, 3 times a day
  • Never squeeze or try to pop a boil: this can cause complications
  • Do not share personal items and cover the boil to prevent spreading the infection


AAD website:

Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology 9th edition

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