Boils or furuncles on the private parts usually develop when the hair follicles get blocked and infected.
Men get boils around the groin, thighs, buttocks, and testicles or penis. Women get it on their vagina, labia, and buttocks and around the groin or thighs. They commonly affect men more often than they affect women.
They usually appear due to various reasons such as:
- Tight clothing or undergarments
- Sitting at one spot for a long time
- Poor genital hygiene
- Sharing personal items such as towels
- Skin irritation caused by shaving or waxing of the pubic hair
- Excess hormones around puberty or after menopause
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs):
- Genital herpes (shingles)
- Genital warts caused due to human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Syphilis (claps)
- Infectious micro-organisms such as:
- Staphylococcus aureas bacteria
- Candidiasis yeast or fungus
- Bartholin gland cyst (infection of the glands in women’s vagina causes painless lump)
- Contact dermatitis due to allergies to chemicals used in soaps, shampoos, and perfumes
- Diseases such as:
- Psoriasis (raised, red or white patches topped with silvery, scaling skin)
- Crohn’s disease (a long-term condition that inflames the digestive system lining)
- Folliculitis (skin diseases that are caused by infected hair shaft)
- Insects such as:
- Pubic lice (small insects that live in the pubic hair)
- Tiny mites cause an itchy skin condition such as scabies
How do boils on the private parts appear?
A boil or furuncle/abscess is a pus-filled inflamed bump that forms under the skin and hair follicles in your private parts mostly due to Staphylococcus aureas bacterial infection.
- It looks like a very big red or yellow pimple.
- Often it starts with an itchy or a tender pimple around the thigh, groin, genitals, or buttock area that grows into a large firm red lump after a few days.
- It may appear as single or multiple and may have deep roots under the skin, which hurts a lot that may make you uncomfortable under tight clothing.
- It may feel hot to touch and give redness to the surrounding area.
- The bump near the vaginal opening in women appears larger.
As it rapidly grows, the center softens, and it looks like a yellow pus-filled bump. The pus bursts through the surface of the skin, or it may settle gradually without bursting open within 1-2 weeks. A healed boil may leave a scar or may slowly fade away.
Often the infection spreads into the surrounding tissues called cellulitis, which can give you fever or chills. When you get severe boils close together and they join, it is called a carbuncle. The boils may appear severe if the person has a low or suppressed immune system and may reappear if not cured completely.
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What are the treatment options?
Most of the boils clear up on their own within 1-2 weeks. Sometimes, it may last for days or months.
Your dermatologist/gynecologist may suggest:
- To avoid unnecessary friction and less sweating by wearing loose, dry clothing, and undergarments.
- To apply a warm compression on the affected area to increase blood circulation and help heal the infection. Soak the towel in lukewarm water and compress the area for 10 minutes.
- To apply petroleum jelly to reduce the friction of the private areas against the fabric (use the one which is prescribed by your gynecologist/dermatologist).
- To use antibiotic creams and tablets such as erythromycin, doxycycline, and tetracycline, in case of a bacterial infection.
- To daily use antiseptic chlorhexidine washes that are often prescribed with treatment to wash the affected areas.
- To use combined contraceptives pills for flare-ups around menses.
- To use pain relievers if you have more discomfort and inflammation.
- To use immunosuppressive treatments such as infliximab and adalimumab injection at regular intervals if you have very severe boils due to a suppressed immune system.
- To use steroids such as prednisolone to reduce severely inflamed skin.
- To drain the abscess under local anesthesia at the hospital if it is widespread underneath or does not go away on its own.
How to prevent recurrence?
Here are ways to reduce the risk of recurrence:
- Wash your hands with a bar of antibacterial soap and lukewarm water before performing the boil treatment to stop the infection spread.
- Always use a prescribed antiseptic skin soap, solution, or wash.
- Losing weight may reduce the risk of boils repeatedly, as the bacteria may survive in the folds of skin.
- Avoid smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Maintain good hygiene and always wear loose, dry clean clothes.
- Avoid shaving affected skin in the private area and change the razor frequently every 3-4 weeks.
- Refrain from using perfumes or deodorants in the affected areas.
- Avoid close contact activities such as sports (rugby and judo) and visiting swimming pools or a gym until the boils get cleared.
- Avoid popping or picking up any sores to avoid infection spread.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and soap.
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Why do people get boils?
Boils may affect anyone; however, certain conditions can make you more prone to get boils, such as:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Being in close contact with someone who has boils
- Getting skin cuts such as those while shaving
- Poor nutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Exposure to skin irritants
- Insect bites
Prolonged sitting, extreme sweating, and skin irritation may make you prone to boils on the buttocks. Boils are the most common on the face, neck, buttocks, thighs, and armpits. They may, however, occur in the hair follicles at any site on the body.
When should I consult a doctor for my boil?
Boils usually get better with home management.
You may consult your doctor if:
- The boil does not heal in two weeks.
- You get a fever.
- More boils appear.
- The boil comes back.
- The boil is on the spine or middle of your face (the dangerous area).
- The boil causes significant pain or discomfort.
- You have long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
Your doctor may drain the boil and prescribe antibiotics for faster healing. Never attempt to drain the boil yourself because it can spread infection.
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Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Boils and carbuncles: Overview. 2018 Jun 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513141/
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