A boil is a common skin infection caused by bacteria or fungi found on the skin’s surface. Boils occur in hair follicles. Damage to these follicles allows bacteria to enter deep into tissues. As a result, the infected area may turn tender, red and swollen. Over time, the tender lump may turn white as pus collects beneath the skin. One infected hair follicle is called a furuncle and several infected hair follicles joined together is called a carbuncle.

Boils can appear anywhere on the body, although they most commonly occur on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, thighs, and buttocks. Areas that have hair and/or collect sweat and rub together are at greater risk of developing boils. Boils in areas such as the ear canal or nose can be especially painful and treatment should be administered quickly. Some people develop boils repeatedly and are unable to prevent them from reoccurring.

Small boils can be taken care of on your own with proper treatment but if your boil becomes larger or continues to grow you may need to seek the help of a doctor. Many people develop boils and a health care professional will be able to properly treat your boils so that you experience minimal complications.