Images of different types of boils that help identify and understand the symptoms.

Images of different types of boils that help identify and understand the symptoms.

A boil, also known as a skin abscess, is a common skin infection that many people suffer from at some point in their lives. Boils usually appear as red, swollen, painful bumps on the skin. They are often filled with pus and can vary in size, from small pustules to larger, more extensive formations. To effectively control and treat boils, it is essential to recognize their characteristics and seek medical attention quickly.

One way to accurately identify a boil is to examine its physical appearance. Visual aids, such as images of the different stages of boils, can be of great help in understanding this condition. These images allow you to compare the skin abnormalities with your own, which helps determine if it is a boil. Visually observing typical signs, such as redness, swelling, and the presence of a pus-filled central core, allows you to better understand the condition and make informed decisions about whether to see a doctor.

  1. Redness: Boils usually manifest as a localized area of redness on the skin. The surrounding skin may appear swollen, irritated, and hot to the touch.
  2. Swelling: A boil is characterized by a swollen lump, which can vary in size and increase in dimension over time. The swelling is usually due to the buildup of fluid and immune cells in the infected area.
  3. Pus: An essential characteristic of a boil is the presence of pus. Pus is a thick, yellowish-white fluid that forms as a result of the body’s immune response to infection. It accumulates in the core of the boil and can end up draining.

Important: It is important to note that self-diagnosis based solely on images is not recommended. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of skin infections.

By educating themselves about boils by examining photographs and understanding their distinguishing characteristics, people can improve their ability to identify this common skin infection. Early recognition and rapid medical intervention are crucial to prevent complications and ensure effective treatment. Remember that if you suspect that you have a boil or any other skin infection, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional to receive the necessary care and guidance.

Pictures of Boils: A Visual Guide to Identify and Understand

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify boils, as their appearance varies depending on the stage of development they are in. This visual guide provides an overview of the different stages of boils, allowing you to better identify and understand these skin infections. Please note that while these images serve as a useful reference, it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Stage 1: Inflammation and Tenderness

The initial phase of a boil is characterized by redness, swelling and tenderness in the affected area. This phase usually begins with a small, firm lump that gradually increases in size over a few days. The surrounding skin may appear inflamed and be warm to the touch. In this phase, it is essential to maintain good hygiene, as the infection can easily spread to other parts of the body or to other people through direct contact.

Important: If you see any signs of a boil, avoid squeezing it or attempting to remove it yourself, as this can lead to further infections and complications.

Stage 2: Pus Collection and Formation of a Head

As the boil progresses, it enters the second phase, in which a pocket of pus forms under the skin. The center of the boil becomes softer and more prominent, often resembling a white or yellowish lump. This fluid-filled head indicates that the body is mounting an immune response to the infection. During this phase, the boil may cause more pain and discomfort.

Stages of boils:
Stadium Description
Stadium 1 Inflammation and sensitivity
Phase 2 Accumulation of pus and formation of a head
Phase 3 Rupture and drainage of the boil
Phase 4 Cicatrization
  1. Stage 1: Inflammation and sensitivity
  2. Stage 2: Pus accumulation and formation of a head
  3. Stage 3: Boil Rupture and Drainage
  4. Stage 4: Healing

Recognizing Boils: Characteristics and Symptoms


  • Typically begins as a firm, red, tender lump on the skin
  • Gradually increases in size over a few days
  • Develops a white or yellow center known as a “head”
  • The skin around the boil may swell and become inflamed.
  • The boils can be unique or grouped, and sometimes they form an “anthrax” when several boils are merged.

It is important to keep in mind that boils should not be tightened or punctured at home, since this can cause greater infection and propagation.


  1. Localized pain and sensitivity
  2. Growing redness and swelling around the lump
  3. Development of a white or yellow center full of pus
  4. Possible appearance of fever, especially if the boil is large or is accompanied by other symptoms
  5. Sometimes, lymph nodes close to the affected area can be inflamed.

Although most boils can be treated at home with hot compresses, good hygiene and sale analgesics without recipe, it is important to look for medical attention if:

  • The boil is on the face or close to the eyes.
  • Pain and inflammation worsen or persist for more than two weeks.
  • Fever or other systemic symptoms appears.
  • The boil is recurrent or accompanied by other boils.
  • It has a weakened immune system or a disease, such as diabetes, which affects wound healing.

A healthcare professional can guide you about appropriate treatment options, including drainage or antibiotic therapy, to guarantee adequate healing and avoid subsequent complications.

Causes of Boils: Understanding the Underlying Factors

1. Bacterial infection: The main cause of boils is a bacterial infection, more commonly by Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that is usually found in the skin or nose. When the bacteria penetrates the skin through a small cut or scratch, it can infect the hair follicles or the glands, giving rise to the formation of a boil. Poor personal hygiene, such as inappropriate hand washing, can increase the risk of bacterial infection and consequent boils.

Key point: boils are usually caused by bacterial infection, particularly by Staphylococcus aureus. Maintaining good personal hygiene practices, such as adequate hand washing, can help prevent bacterial infections.

2. Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system can also contribute to the formation of boils. People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS, or those who undergo chemotherapy or take immunosuppressive medications, are more susceptible to bacterial infections. When the immune system is weakened, it is less effective in fighting bacteria, allowing them to prosper and cause infections, such as boils.

  1. Note: People with conditions that weaken the immune system must take additional precautions to prevent boils and seek immediate medical attention if they appear.

3. Friction and irritation: Excessive friction or irritation of the skin can create an environment conducive to the formation of boils. Constant rubbing or pressure on the skin can cause inflammation of the hair follicle and subsequent infection. This is frequently seen in areas where skin-to-skin contact occurs, such as the buttocks, thighs, and armpits. Tight clothing, repetitive movements, or activities that involve prolonged pressure on certain parts of the body can contribute to boils.

Causes of boils Key points
Bacterial infection Maintaining good personal hygiene is crucial to preventing infections
weakened immune system People with a weakened immune system are more prone to boils.
Friction and irritation Excessive rubbing or pressure on the skin can contribute to boils.

The Stages of Boil Development: From Inflammation to Abscess Formation

Phase 1: Inflammation

In the initial phase of the boil, the affected area becomes red, swollen and tender. This occurs when the immune system responds to the presence of bacteria, releasing white blood cells at the site of infection. The body tries to fight the infection and forms pus, a mixture of dead bacteria, white blood cells and tissue debris. As the boil progresses, the inflammation increases and the area may be hot to the touch.

Note: It is essential not to squeeze or remove a boil during the inflammation phase, as this can worsen the infection and spread it to other areas of the body.

Phase 2: Pustule formation

As the boil continues to develop, a pustule, or small sac filled with yellowish-white pus, forms in the center. It is a sign that the body is localizing the infection to prevent it from spreading. The pustule is usually surrounded by a red and swollen area, which can cause significant pain and discomfort.

  1. The skin over the pustule may become thinner and softer, indicating the accumulation of pus underneath.
  2. The pustule may increase in size, putting additional pressure on surrounding tissues.
  3. At this stage, the boil is very contagious, so appropriate hygienic measures must be taken to prevent its spread.

Phase 3: Abscess formation

If it is not or if the infection continues to get worse, the boil progresses to the formation phase of an abscess. An abscess is a pus bag that forms inside the skin. It is usually bigger and more painful than a pustule. The abscess can be perceived as a fluctuating mass, that is, when touching it it feels soft and full of liquid. As the abscess continues to grow, it can cause the skin to stretch, shine and discolor.

Abscess formation signs Important notes
Intense pain and sensitivity This indicates a deeper infection and may require medical intervention for adequate drainage.
Redness and generalized heat These signs suggest cellulite, a more serious infection that requires immediate medical attention.
Fever and chills If these systemic symptoms accompany the formation of an abscess, it can indicate a more serious infection and require immediate medical care.

Different Types of Boils: Furuncles, Carbuncles, and Pilonidal Cysts

The boils, or commonly known as boils, are deep skin infections that begin in a hair follicle or a sebaceous gland. They are usually caused by bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Initial symptoms can include an area of sensitive skin, reddened and swollen, which gradually becomes firm and filled with pus. As the mature boil can develop a white or yellow center, which finally explodes and drains. It is important not to squeeze or remove a boiling at home, since the infection can worsen or make it extend. Instead, it is recommended to seek medical treatment for adequate drainage and antibiotic therapy.

The anthrax are larger and more serious than the boils, and are characterized by a group of boils that form a painful and interconnected network under the skin. They usually appear in areas of thicker skin, such as the neck, shoulders or thighs. ANTRAX are usually caused by a more aggressive bacterial infection and can cause important inflammation, fever and discomfort. The treatment of anthrax usually consists of oral antibiotics, hot compresses and, in severe cases, incision and drainage.

Comparison between boils and carbuncos
Boils Carbuncos
Single boil Cluster of boils
Small to medium size Large and interconnected
Located pain and inflammation Important fever and inflammation

It is essential to differentiate between boils and carbuncos, since gravity and treatment can be different. Going to the doctor for adequate diagnosis and treatment is crucial to prevent complications and favor healing.

Pilonidal cysts are a unique type of boil that form in the crease between the buttocks, near the tailbone. These cysts are believed to be caused by blockage of the hair follicle and subsequent infection. Pilonidal cysts usually present as a painful abscess or boil with redness and swelling. They can cause discomfort when sitting or walking and can sometimes develop into chronic, recurring infections. Treatment options for pilonidal cysts include antibiotic therapy, warm compresses, and, in severe cases, surgical drainage or excision.

Complications and Risks Associated with Boils


  1. Cellulitis: One of the most common complications of boils is cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that spreads beyond the site of the boil. Cellulite manifests itself with redness, warmth and swelling of the surrounding skin and can progress rapidly. If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to systemic infections, such as sepsis.
  2. Abscess formation: Boils that are not properly treated or incised can become abscesses. Abscesses are pus-filled pockets that form within the skin and require medical intervention, such as drainage or surgical removal. If abscesses are not treated promptly, the infection can spread and multiple boils may form.
  3. Scars: Boils, especially large or deep-seated ones, can leave scars once healed. The severity of scars varies from person to person and can be influenced by factors such as the individual’s healing process and the location of the boil. Proper wound care and avoiding self-mutilation of the boil are crucial to minimizing the risk of visible scarring.


  • Self-infection: Boils are very contagious and can spread to other areas of the body or to other people if proper precautions are not taken, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding contact with the infected area.
  • Secondary infections: Untreated or recurrent boils can lead to secondary infections. These infections may require stronger antibiotics or more invasive treatments to kill the bacteria and prevent further complications.
  • Underlying illnesses: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes or HIV/AIDS, are at increased risk of developing severe or recurrent boils. These people may require specialized medical care and closer monitoring to ensure effective treatment of the infection.

It is essential to seek medical attention if a boil does not improve within a week, if it increases in size rapidly, if the pain becomes unbearable, or if signs of systemic infection appear, such as fever or chills.

Treatment Options for Boils: From Home Remedies to Medical Interventions

When treating boils, there are several home remedies that can provide relief and aid in the healing process. These remedies are usually intended to reduce pain, inflammation and promote drainage of the boil. A popular home remedy is to apply a hot compress to the affected area. Heat helps increase blood circulation, which can speed up the healing process and encourage the boil to peak, allowing drainage.

Important note: It is essential to avoid squeezing or pricking a boil yourself, as this can lead to further infection or the spread of bacteria.

In addition to hot compresses, some over-the-counter treatments can be used at home to help manage the symptoms of a boil. Topical ointments, creams, or gels that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, or salicylic acid can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.

  • Apply a hot compress to the affected area for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
  • Avoid squeezing or poking the boil.
  • Consider using over-the-counter topical treatments that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil.

If home remedies do not provide enough relief or if the boil worsens, it is important to seek medical intervention. A healthcare professional can recommend different treatment options depending on the severity of the boil. For larger or persistent boils, incision and drainage may be necessary.

  1. If home remedies do not provide relief, consult a healthcare professional.
  2. A healthcare professional may recommend incision and drainage for larger or persistent boils.
  3. In severe or recurrent cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.
Treatment options Description
Incision and drainage A healthcare professional makes a small incision to allow the boil to drain, relieving pressure and promoting healing.
Oral antibiotics Prescription medications that help eliminate the bacteria causing the infection and prevent further complications.

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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