Boils and Styes

What are Boils and Styes?

Boils and styes are common skin infections that result from bacterial or fungal growth in hair follicles or oil glands. While they share some similarities, they occur in different areas of the body and have distinct characteristics:


Also known as furuncles or abscesses, boils are painful, pus-filled lumps that develop deep within the skin. They typically occur on areas of the body with hair follicles, such as the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, or thighs.


Styes, also called hordeolum, are red, swollen bumps that form on the eyelid, usually near the edge of the eyelid or the base of the eyelashes. They are typically caused by bacterial infection of an oil gland in the eyelid.

Symptoms of Boils and Styes

Common symptoms of boils and styes may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the affected area.
  • Redness, swelling, and warmth around the lump.
  • Formation of a white or yellow pus-filled center.
  • Itching or discomfort.
  • Swollen lymph nodes (in severe cases).

Causes of Boils and Styes

Boils and styes are usually caused by bacterial (such as Staphylococcus aureus) or fungal infections that enter the skin through cuts, scratches, or hair follicles. Contributing factors to the development of boils and styes include:

  • Poor hygiene practices.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
  • Contact with contaminated objects or surfaces.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS.

Treatment for Boils and Styes

Treatment for boils and styes typically involves:

  • Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected area several times a day can help alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and promote drainage of pus.
  • Topical Antibiotics: Antibiotic ointments or creams may be applied to the affected area to help prevent bacterial spread and promote healing.
  • Incision and Drainage: For larger or persistent boils, a healthcare professional may need to make an incision to drain the pus and relieve pressure.
  • Oral Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for severe or recurrent cases of boils or styes, particularly if the infection spreads or if there are underlying medical conditions.
  • Steroid Eye Drops (for Styes): In some cases of styes, steroid eye drops may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and discomfort.

It’s important to avoid squeezing or puncturing boils or styes, as this can lead to further infection or scarring. If you experience recurrent or severe boils or styes, consult a dermatologist for proper evaluation and treatment.

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