Furuncle: what it is, remedies, home treatment and symptoms


What is boil?

Boils are skin infections that affect the hair follicle and are often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.  They appear as a reddened, hot and hardened nodule with pus present. It is usually small, but its size varies according to the depth of the infection.

The difference between a furuncle and folliculitis is that, in addition to the follicle, the furuncle affects the subcutaneous tissue in the vicinity of the follicle.

It is common for the bacteria to manifest itself in damp, frictional hair regions, in addition to fatty parts of the skin, which facilitates the blocking of hair follicles.

The boil is usually benign and has no problems, disappearing over the course of a few days, but it can cause complications, especially when its handling is inadequate.


Boils do not necessarily have types, but some situations can occur when they are given different names.


The boil can affect regions with several hair follicles nearby and infect several of them. The nape of the neck is a frequent target of this type of multiple infection, which is now called carbuncle , in which several boils form a single, quite painful mass, full of pus and necrosis.


Furunculosis is characterized by several boils in different places or by recurrent boils in a patient. It can be caused by scratching a boil and transporting bacteria elsewhere in the body, or by a weakened immune system.


The main cause of the boil is infection with Staphylococcus aureus . The bacterium lives on human skin and, when it is only on the skin, does not cause any problems, but any cut and wound of the skin (even the bite of a mosquito) opens the way for it to enter.

Although similar, boils are not  pimples, but as pimples cause sores on the skin, they can serve as a way for the bacteria to infect the follicle and cause the boil.


Although the boil itself cannot be transmitted, the bacteria can. Staphylococcus aureus has colonies on the skin of approximately 15% of the population. They can be transmitted on contact with the skin, especially the hands.

Usually she finds it difficult to colonize someone else’s skin because of competition for food with other bacteria present on the skin, but if she can find a wound, it can cause infection.

It is recommended to wash your hands frequently and carefully to avoid infection.

Groups of risk

Some people are in the boil risk group. Are they:


Due to circulation problems, the response to bacterial infections in the body of people with diabetes is slower, which facilitates the action of bacteria. The amount of sugar in the blood serves as food for them, which proliferate more effectively. In general, diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infections.

HIV carriers

Due to the immune problems caused by HIV , bacterial infections are able to spread more easily in the body of people with the disease.

Injecting drug users

Injections open wounds that bacteria can enter. Typically, injecting drug users do not follow hygiene standards to prevent infections and that is why they are in the risk group for boils.


The obesity reduces the body’s immunity, facilitating the action of bacteria.

Low immunity

Any condition or situation that reduces the strength of a person’s immune system makes them more vulnerable to bacterial infections such as boils.


The acne causes openings in the skin through which the bacteria that live in it can enter easily.



The main symptom of boils is an abscess on the skin. Abscesses are accumulations of pus caused by infections. They are painful, reddened, swollen, hardened nodules that have a yellowish center, which indicates the presence of pus.

Often the lump breaks on its own and the pain goes away. It also passes immediately in cases where the abscess is surgically opened.


The skin around the boil may itch. Avoid scratching, as this can help spread the bacteria, turning the isolated case into a furunculosis.


Carbuncles have considerably greater pain and need to be treated surgically to clean necrotic tissue.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis can be made by the dermatologist based  on clinical observation, however, for there to be a differential diagnosis (which seeks confirmation to avoid confusion with similar conditions), an examination of bacterial culture can be made, seeking the certainty of what type of bacteria is causing the infection.

Is there a cure?

Yes, the boil is curable . It is common that it does not even need to be treated and that it disappears on its own after a few days. Even when treatment is needed, it is usually simple and the patient can expect complete recovery.

What is the treatment?

Normally, the boil does not need treatment. It is common for the skin to break off on its own, releasing pus, relieving pain and eliminating infection. However, in some cases, the use of antibiotics may be necessary .


In cases of carbuncle, surgical drainage  may be necessary to eliminate infection and necrosis.

Speed ​​up spontaneous drainage

The use of moist heat, which can be applied through a towel moistened with hot water, can accelerate the spontaneous drainage process.

Don’t squeeze!

It is important not to squeeze the boil, as this can make the infection worse.


In cases of recurrent boils, medical treatment with antibiotics is necessary.

Home treatments

The healing of the boil can be accelerated and it is possible to reduce the chances of it spreading through the body and to other people with some home treatments. Remembering that not all of these treatments are scientifically proven and they are not a substitute for a visit to the doctor.

Antiseptic soap

The use of antiseptic soap can prevent the infection from spreading, in addition to speeding up the treatment of the boil. It is important to wash your hands and the affected area well.

Warm compresses

Warm, moist compresses help to increase circulation in the region, which helps in the healing process and fights infection. Dry the area well after applying the compress, as moisture, if ignored, can contribute to the multiplication of bacteria.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is considered a powerful antibacterial that can be applied directly to the boil, preferably diluted. There is no scientific evidence for this remedy.


Boils tend to resolve themselves and the use of antibiotics in every  situation of infection by Staphylococcus aureus only contributes to bacterial resistance development.

However, in some cases, antibiotic treatment may be necessary. These are the most effective drugs against the bacteria:

  • Bactrim ;
  • Ciprofloxacin ;
  • Amoxicillin + Potassium clavulanate ;
  • Clindamycin ( Anaerocid ).


  • Nebacetin ;
  • Furacin .


NEVER  self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Common places

Any part of the body that has hair follicles can be affected by boils and that means almost the entire body. However, they are more common in some regions such as the armpits, buttocks, face, thighs or in the genital region. This is because these regions are more prone to exposure to moisture and fat, in addition to the friction of the clothes that cover the region.


As long as the patient does not burst or puncture the boil, it should be drained naturally, without the need to do anything. It is important to avoid contact with pus and, if there is contact, you should wash your hands immediately to prevent further infection.

After the boil opens naturally, it heals on its own and can leave a dark mark on the spot, but it will not cause any more problems.

The patient can expect complete recovery from the condition.


In general, the boil only causes complications if the patient tries to squeeze it.

Bursting or piercing the boil can spread the bacteria, causing it to penetrate deeper and enter the bloodstream. This is a problem as it can reach bones and vital organs like the heart. This can lead to sepsis , which is an  extremely dangerous generalized infection condition .

When the boil is close to the ears or in the region between the mouth and the nose, called the “dangerous zone”, it is important to go to the doctor for prevention, since in these regions veins pass that can take the bacteria to the brain if it enters the blood flow due to the pressure of the squeeze.

How to prevent


The prevention of boils is never guaranteed, but it can make infection difficult. Some tips are:

Wash hands

Washing your hands well reduces the chances that the bacteria can spread throughout the body. It is the most effective way to prevent boils and bacterial diseases.

Don’t scratch

Scratching a spot where there is a furuncle can help spread the bacteria to other parts of the body, causing furunculosis.

Avoid too tight clothes

Clothes that are too tight and that make it difficult to eliminate sweat and moisture facilitate the multiplication of bacteria on the skin. Avoiding them makes it more difficult for bacteria to get into possible wounds.


Go for the baths and change the bedding frequently. This makes bacterial multiplication difficult.


MSRA, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus , that is, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus  is a strain of the bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics from the penicillin group.

Methicillin is an antibiotic in the penicillin group that is no longer used, as other, more stable penicillins have the same or better effect. However, MSRA was named when they discovered methicillin- resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria . Nowadays, the name is used for strains of the bacterium resistant to the entire group of penicillins.

This bacterium is not more aggressive than  normal S. aureus , but the means of treatment are reduced. This strain is usually found in hospitals. Although it is no more dangerous for people than the normal version, as it is more common in hospitals, it is dangerous for patients who may have a weakened immune system.