Boils and Carbuncles: Signs and Symptoms


Boils can occur anywhere on your skin, but primarily on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks or thighs. Hair-bearing areas where you sweat or experience friction can be high risk areas.Boils tend to begin as small red infections about the size of a pea and can develop to the size of a golf ball.

Signs and symptoms of a boil usually include the following:

  • A painful small red bump.
  • Red, swollen skin around the bump.
  • An increase in the size of the bump over a few days as it fills with pus.
  • Development of a yellow-white tip that eventually ruptures and allows the pus to drain out.

A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that often occurs on the back of the neck, shoulders or thighs.

Signs of carbuncles include the following:

  • A deeper and more severe infection than single boil.
  • Slow healing period.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.

Boils that do not improve over a period of two weeks or when it is accompanied by a fever should be seen by a physician.