Boils and carbunclesOverview


Boils and carbuncles are red, painful lumps on the skin that are usually caused by a bacterial infection.


The main symptom of a boil is a red, painful, pus-filled lump on your skin. A carbuncle is a dome-shaped cluster of boils.


Boils often get better on their own. Holding a warm face cloth on it can help it heal. If it does not heal, a GP may drain it or give you antibiotics.


Boils and carbuncles are caused by bacteria infecting a hair follicle. They can spread to another part of your body or to another person.


To help reduce your risk of getting a boil or carbuncle, wash your skin regularly with mild antibacterial soap and clean and cover any cuts or grazes.

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2017
Next review due: 18/07/2020