What Causes Boils?

By Arrowhead Dermatology
August 19, 2016
Category: Dermatology
Tags: Boils  

Boils are not only unsightly, but also painful. Understanding the causes of this common skin infection can help you avoid boils in the future. Keith J. Haar, M.D.; Lisa Hynes, M.D.; Julie Jacobs, D.O.; Ryan Stevens, M.D.; and Charles Rodriguez, M.D.; practice dermatology in Peoria, AZ, and share a few reasons that you may develop a boil.

What are boils?

Boils develop due to an infection in a hair follicle. You may notice a sore, red spot on your skin at first, but as the infection progresses, a pus-filled bump will appear. Boils can occur anywhere on the body but are more common on the buttocks, neck, face, shoulders and armpits. Sweat and friction between body parts can contribute to the formation of boils.

What causes boils?

Boils form when staphylococcal bacteria reaches your hair follicle through a small cut or scratch in your skin. You may be more likely to develop a boil if:

  • Your immune system is weak.
  • Diabetes makes it harder for you to fight infections.
  • You have acne or eczema.
  • Your skin has been exposed to irritating chemicals.
  • You come in contact with someone who has a boil or carbuncle (a cluster of boils).
  • You have poor nutrition or poor hygiene.

How are boils treated?

In many cases, you can successfully treat boils at home by following these steps:

  1. Soak the affected area in warm water or place a warm washcloth over the boil to relieve pain and encourage the pus to move closer to the surface of your skin.
  2. After the boil bursts and begins to drain, clean it with antibacterial soap. Place topical antibacterial ointment or cream on top and cover the boil with a bandage.
  3. Clean the boil several times throughout the day and reapply topical antibacterial medication and a bandage until the boil begins to heal. Continue to use warm compresses while the boil heals.

When should I see my skin doctor?

Visit your Peoria dermatologist if your boil appears on your face or is very large (over two inches.) You should also make an appointment if you have a fever, your boil doesn't heal after two weeks of home treatment, your boil keeps coming back or you have carbuncles.

Are you worried about a boil that just won't go away? Your dermatology providers in Peoria, AZ, Keith J. Haar, M.D.; Lisa Hynes, M.D.; Julie Jacobs, D.O.; Ryan Stevens, M.D.; and Charles Rodriguez, M.D.; can help ease your pain. Call them at (623) 487-3003 to make an appointment.