Boils (Skin Abscesses)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideBoils: Causes, Symptoms, and Home Remedies

Boils: Causes, Symptoms, and Home Remedies

What is a boil? What are boil symptoms and signs?

A boil is a localized infection in the skin that begins as a reddened, tender area. Over time, the area becomes firm, hard, and increasingly tender. Eventually, the center of the boil softens and becomes filled with infection-fighting white blood cells from the bloodstream to eradicate the infection. This collection of white blood cells, bacteria, and proteins is known as pus. Finally, the pus "forms a head," which can be surgically opened or may spontaneously drain out through the surface of the skin. Pus enclosed within tissue is referred to as an abscess. A boil is also referred to as a skin abscess. Boils can occur anywhere on the body, including the trunk, extremities, buttocks, groin, or other areas. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/19/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Kasper, D., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2015.

Satter, Elizabeth Kline. "Folliculitis." Medscape.com. Dec. 11, 2013. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1070456-overview>.

Singhal, Hemant. "Skin and Soft Tissue Infections - Incision, Drainage, and Debridement." Medscape.com. May 8, 2012. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1830144-overview>.

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