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Boils can occur anywhere on your skin, but appear mainly on your face, neck, armpits, buttocks or thighs — hair-bearing areas where you're most likely to sweat or experience friction. Signs and symptoms of a boil usually include:
A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that form a connected area of infection. Carbuncles often occur on the back of the neck, shoulders or thighs. Compared with single boils, carbuncles cause a deeper and more severe infection and are more likely to leave a scar. People who have a carbuncle often feel unwell in general and may experience a fever and chills.
Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose a boil or carbuncle simply by looking at it. He or she might suggest sending a sample of the pus to a lab for testing. This may be useful if you have recurring infections or an infection that hasn't responded to standard treatment.
Many varieties of the bacteria that cause boils have become resistant to certain types of antibiotics. So lab testing can help determine what type of antibiotic would work best in your situation.
For small boils, these measures may help the infection heal more quickly and prevent it from spreading
For larger boils and carbuncles, treatment may include:
You usually can care for a single, small boil yourself. But see your doctor if you have more than one boil at a time or if a boil: