A boil may begin as a tender, pinkish-red, swollen, firm area in the skin. Over time, it will feel like a water-filled balloon or cyst.
Pain gets worse as it fills with pus and dead tissue, and improves as it drains. It may drain on its own. More often the patient or someone else opens the boil.
Other symptoms may include:
The health care provider can usually diagnose a boil based on how it looks. A culture may show staphylococcus or other bacteria.
Habif TM. Bacterial infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 9.
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