How to differentiate a boil from a pimple

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When an individual develops elevated, red-colored spots on the skin, there are several possible causes to consider. These spots might simply be a pimple or it can be a boil or carbuncle. It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of the spots, but there are indications to bear in mind such as the size and location. By enrolling in a course on first aid today, you can readily manage these conditions to provide ease to the individual.

Exact origin

If a pimple is suspected, they are caused by a blocked hair follicle. Take note that the blockage is typically caused by the overproduction of oil by the oil glands present in the skin as well as the accumulation of dead skin. Some individuals are prone to pimples and the risk is increased due to poor skin hygiene or exposure to dirt.

boils, they usually form in the armpits, buttocks as well as the groin or on the thighs of the individual.

As for boils, they are caused by a bacterial infection in the hair follicle. The bacteria responsible for boils and carbuncles are staphylococcus aureus. An individual can acquire a staph infection after contact with an infected individual or from contact with contaminated objects such as towels.


It is important to note that both pimples and boils have similar appearances, especially if the boil is still in its early stage. Both appear red in color and elevated. As time passes by, boils start to grow in size than the pimples.

Boils can even join together and form a carbuncle which is basically a cluster of boils that connect to form one head. They are usually hard and sore while a pimple is not as hard and may or may not cause any pain.


You can differentiate a pimple and boil by its location in the body. When it comes to pimples, they typically manifest on the face, back or chest since these areas are where the oil glands become overactive and block the follicles.

As for boils, they usually form in the armpits, buttocks as well as the groin or on the thighs of the individual. Take note that both pimples and boils can manifest around the nose or on the neck. The staphylococcus aureus bacteria can colonize the nose of the individual and cause the manifestation of boils around the nose.


The pimples usually vanish on their own without requiring treatment but you can utilize an over-the-counter medication or prescription antibiotic or ointment to effectively treat them and hasten the healing. As for boils or carbuncles, they often need medical care. Remember that a boil or carbuncle should be incised if it is too large. Additionally, an antibiotic is required to eliminate the bacteria and prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. If the condition is not treated, the bacteria can cause serious complications such as brain or spinal cord infection, septicemia, septic arthritis or heart infection.

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