Boils (Folliculitis or Furuncles) - Introduction

Introduction Causes Symptoms Treatments

Hairs form under the surface of the skin in structures known as hair follicles. A boil is an infection (abscess) of the deep part of a hair follicle with a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus). Infection of a group of adjacent follicles causes a carbuncle. Occasionally, the infection may spread beyond the hair follicle into the surrounding tissues (cellulitis), causing fever and illness.

S.aureus can spread from one part of the body to another, and from one person to another, via fingers, skin-to-skin contact, and contaminated clothing. Boils are most common in adolescents, and affect boys more often than girls. Sufferers of boils seldom have a problem with their immune system, although boils can be very florid when the immune system is abnormal.

Boils are not hereditary, however, the bacteria that cause boils can spread from person to person and so boils can affect more than one person in a household.