difference between a boil and pimple

The Difference Between a Boil and a Pimple

When it comes to common skin issues, boils and pimples are two of the most commonly occurring ones. While both share some similarities, they are quite different in terms of their causes, symptoms, and treatments. This article delves into the significant differences between boils and pimples to help you identify and manage them better.

What are Boils?

Boils are painful, red, swollen bumps that are caused by a bacterial infection of a hair follicle or an oil gland on the skin. They are also known as furuncles and can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found in areas where sweating and friction occur, such as the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and thighs. Boils begin as a small, tender bump that gradually grows in size and becomes filled with pus. In some cases, they may burst and drain.

What are Pimples?

Pimples are small, raised bumps on the skin that are caused by clogged pores, typically with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. They are also called zits or acne and can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the face, neck, chest, and back. Pimples are often red or pink, sometimes with a white center, and can be painful or itchy. They tend to develop during puberty but can also occur in adults.

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Key Differences Between Boils and Pimples

1. Size and Appearance: Boils are typically larger in size than pimples and are often more painful. They are raised, round, and red, with a white or yellow center filled with pus. On the other hand, pimples are smaller, flatter, and may have a white or black head.

2. Causes: Boils are caused by a bacterial infection of the hair follicle or oil gland, while pimples are caused by clogged pores, typically due to excess sebum production and dead skin cell buildup.

3. Location: Boils tend to occur in areas where there is more friction and sweating, such as the buttocks, thighs, and armpits. Pimples, on the other hand, can develop anywhere on the face, chest, or back.

4. Treatment: Boils often require medical treatment, such as antibiotics, draining, or surgical removal. Pimples can be treated with over-the-counter topical products, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.


In summary, boils and pimples are two different skin conditions that require different treatments. While boils are often more severe and require medical attention, pimples can usually be treated with over-the-counter products. If you have concerns about a skin condition, it’s always best to consult with a dermatologist to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Table difference between a boil and pimple

Property Boil Pimple
Appearance A red, swollen lump on the skin, filled with pus or fluid A small, inflamed bump on the skin, often with a white or black head
Cause Bacterial infection of a hair follicle or oil gland Blockage of a hair follicle with dead skin cells and oil
Pain Can be painful, especially when touched or pressed Usually not painful, unless irritated or inflamed
Treatment May need to be drained by a healthcare professional, antibiotics may be prescribed Can be treated with over-the-counter creams or medications, may go away on its own
Location Can occur anywhere on the body, usually on areas with hair follicles Usually occurs on the face, neck, and back
Size Can range in size from a small pea to a golf ball Usually small, less than 1cm in diameter