Boils are bacterial or fungal infections of hair follicles. The infected hair follicle can be on any part of your body, causing the skin surrounding the follicle to become inflamed. Furuncles (or boils) are most commonly found on the face and neck.

A boil (or furuncle) may begin as a benign-looking bump on the skin, similar to a pimple. However as the infection worsens, it may become hard and painful with bacteria and dead skin cells building up under the skin and forming pus. Pressure building under the skin may break the boil and release the fluids inside it. The pain is usually at its worst right before a furuncle ruptures and will most likely improve after it drains.


Many people do not need to see a doctor for treatment unless a boil remains large, unruptured, or very painful for more than two weeks. Usually a furuncle will already have drained and begun to heal within this timeframe.



Treatment for stubborn furuncles generally includes steps to promote drainage and healing. Warm compresses can help speed the rupturing of a furuncle. Apply a warm, moist compress throughout the day to facilitate drainage.

Contact your doctor if your furuncle remains unruptured or if you are in severe pain after a couple of weeks. A need for antibiotics may be required to clear the infection. The doctor may also elect to manually drain the boil with sterile instruments in their office. Never try to open the boil yourself by squeezing, pricking, or cutting the boil. This increases the risk for a deeper infection and severe scarring.

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