(Carbuncle; Furuncle; Cutaneous Abscess; Skin Abscess; Abscess, Cutaneous; Abscess, Skin)
- Furuncle or carbuncle—an abscess caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes, sometimes occurs 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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- Bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus
- Ingrown hair
- Splinter or foreign object lodged in the skin
- Blocked sweat gland or oil duct
- Poor nutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Weakened immune system
- Exposure to harsh chemicals
- 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.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.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. Accessed January 14, 2013.
Skin abscess. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated August 27, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.
- Reviewer: Peter Lucas, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 01/14/2013 -