(Carbuncle; Furuncle; Cutaneous Abscess; Skin Abscess; Abscess, Cutaneous; Abscess, Skin)
- Furuncle or carbuncle—an abscess that is caused by bacteria, sometimes they occur as several boils in a group
- Pilonidal cyst—an abscess that occurs in the crease of the buttocks and almost always requires medical treatment
- Cystic acne—an abscess that occurs when oil ducts become clogged and infected, more common in the teenage years
- Hidradenitis suppurativa —an uncommon disorder where multiple abscesses occur in the armpit and groin area
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- Ingrown hair
- Splinter or foreign object lodged in the skin
- Blocked sweat gland or oil duct
- Skin lump or bump that is red, swollen, and tender
- Lump that becomes larger, more painful, and softer over time
- A pocket of pus that may form on top of the boil
- The boil worsens, continues, or becomes large or severe
- You have a fever
- The skin around the boil turns red or red streaks appear
- The boil does not drain
- An additional boil or boils appear
- The boil limits your normal activities
- The boil is on your face, near your spine, or in the anal area
- You have diabetes
- You develop many boils over several months
Lancing the Boil
Cleaning and Bandaging
- Practice good hygiene. Wash boil-prone areas with soap and water or an antibacterial soap. Dry thoroughly.
- Clean and treat any minor skin wounds.
- Avoid clothing that is too tight.
- If you have eczema or diabetes, follow the treatment plan outlined by your doctor.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Boils. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/bacterial/boils.html. Updated June 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
Skin abscesses, furuncles, and carbuncles. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 12, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/03/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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