Health Information

Folliculitis, Boils, and Carbuncles

What are folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles?


Folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles due to an infection, injury, or irritation. It is characterized by tender, swollen areas that form around hair follicles, often on the neck, breasts, buttocks, and face. Boils are pus-filled lesions that are painful and usually firm. Boils are usually located in the waist area, groin, buttocks, and under the arm. Carbuncles are clusters of boils. These are usually found in the back of the neck or thigh.

How are folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles diagnosed?

Diagnosis of folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles are made by your physician after a thorough medical history and physical examination. After examining the lesions, your physician may culture the wounds (obtain a sample of the drainage of the wound, allow it to grow in the laboratory, and identify specific bacteria) to help verify the diagnosis and to help in selecting the best treatment.

Treatment for folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles:

Specific treatment for folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference