Is It a Boil or a Pimple? Learn the Signs

Is it a boil or pimple?

Boils are small blisters that form due to infection. They usually appear within one week after contact with infected skin. Sometimes they may appear several days later. There are two types of boils: open and closed ones. Open boils do not heal; they just become larger and scarier over time. Closed boils heal when they are drained of pus.

Pimples are large red bumps that develop from bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other germs (viruses). A pimple is any raised area on your body caused by infection.

You may have many pimples at once or only some pimples. Some people get lots of them while others don’t get any at all.

The symptoms of boils include:

Swollen lymph nodes (nodules) in your neck, armpits, groin and underarms. These nodules may feel tender or painful.

If left untreated, these nodules can cause cancerous growths called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Bacteria can grow inside the pores of your skin. When this happens, the bacteria can cause a pus-filled bump to appear on your skin.

The pus contains infection fighting cells that protect your body from disease.

A pimple, also called a zit, is a small bump filled with a mixture of oil, bacteria and skin cells. Pimples most commonly occur on your face, neck, shoulders and back.

Acne causes pimples to develop under the skin’s surface.

The symptoms of pimples include:

Swelling, redness and tenderness on the skin.

Red or brown spots that appear on the skin.

Small pus-filled bumps on the skin. These bumps may be filled with whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.

Boils may look like pimples at first. However, pimples don’t develop into large swollen areas, don’t cause severe pain and they are not hot to the touch.

Boils are filled with pus and they can be very painful. You may have just one boil or you may have many boils all over your skin.

Boils and pimples both cause pain, swelling and redness. If you notice any of these symptoms on your skin, see a doctor immediately.

Boils can become infected and land you in the hospital if you don’t treat them right away.

Boils are caused by bacteria entering your body through a cut or other wound. If you pick or scratch the skin, you can easily introduce bacteria into your system.

Your immune system is unable to fight off the infection and you develop a boil.

Pimples are caused by excess oil (sebum) clogging pores. Bacteria get trapped inside these pores and multiply.

The walls of the pore eventually weaken and break down. This results in a whitehead if the pore opens on the surface of the skin.

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