A boil or furuncle is an infection of a hair follicle. The follicle is the small hole in the skin where a hair is formed. Many people get boils. They grow deep into the skin. Clusters of boils are called carbuncles. Boils are usually found on the face, neck, breasts, armpits, and buttocks.


Boils are caused by a germ called a bacteria (bak-teer-e-uh). If the boil breaks open, the germs may spread to nearby skin. This may cause new boils to form. When a boil breaks open germs and dead tissue are released from it. This can allow the boil to spread to other parts of the skin or to other people.

Signs and Symptoms:

The boil is a pus-filled, red bump on the skin. It is usually tender. It can grow quickly and become very painful in 24 hours. Most people with a boil do not have a fever.


  • A boil should be gone within 5 to 10 days of starting treatment. If you are not treated, the boil may take longer to go away (about 10 to 20 days). Your untreated boils have a greater chance of causing more boils. And your symptoms may be worse than with those boils that are treated.
  • Keep your skin clean. Do not pick or squeeze the boil. Warm soaks may help boils heal. Your caregiver may need to open the boil to drain the pus and dead skin. Antibiotic (an-ti-bi-ah-tik) medicine may be needed to treat the infection.