Is That A Boil Or A Pimple? Learn How To Identify Them

boil Vs pimple learn tips to identify

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaPublished at: Jun 23, 2021Updated at: Jun 23, 2021
Is That A Boil Or A Pimple? Learn How To Identify Them

Pimple that are larger in size might look like a boil. Both these skin problems can be discomforting and embarrassing, with almost similar symptoms. Many people get confused and are not able to tell the difference between a pimple and a boil. Well, a pimple develops on the skin when tiny pores become clogged. On the other hand, boil is a pus filled lump on the skin which is caused by bacterial infection. It can even be painful, red and swollen. Both type of growths look similar but are quite different and are even treated using varying medical options and home remedies. To dig more into it, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dermatologist Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatology clinic, to know about some tips to tell the difference between a pimple and boil.

Boil Vs pimple: Tips to identify

Extremely big pimples look just like boils and have very similar looks. It is best to consult a skin specialist for correct verification and treatment. Boil develops on the areas with hair follicles on the body. And, a pimple is usually located on the face. According to Dr. Nivedita, here are some tips to identify the difference between a boil and pimple:

1. Causes

  • Boils, also named as abcesses develop because of bacterial infection in hair follicles. The bacteria or fungus causes swelling and pain in a boil.
  • Pimple is caused by clogging of open pores on the skin, instead of an infection. The tiny openings get clogged by oil or dead skin cells.

2. Size


  • The size of boils is not definite in every case and it can vary from being very tiny to a large bump on the skin. These even get larger in size with time.
  • On the other hand, pimples are smaller in size in most cases. The clogged pore is not painful in most cases.

3. Other symptoms

  • Other symptoms of a pimple include blocked pore, irritation, redness and inflammation. Moreover, pimples can leave dark spots or scars on the skin.
  • Boil is a red and huge firm swollen bump on the inside of the skin, but it gets pus filled and larger with time.

4. Location

  • The location of a boil is mostly on areas of the body that sweat more and are at a risk of developing bacterial infection, such as armpits, groin and thighs.
  • Pimples are mostly located on the face, upper back, chest and shoulder.

5. Treatment

boil treatment

  • Boils can be treated at home in most cases. They heal after draining the blood or pus out of it.
  • Warm compression should be avoided as a treatment option as many studies do not recommend it. And, do not try to pop it on your own. Turmeric can help in healing boils.
  • On the other hand, if left untreated, your pimple will heal itself within 10-14 days, but the lump inside the skin can take some time to go away.
  • Cold compression and prescribed topical ointments can help in treating pimples at home. These can treat inflammation within 2-3 days.

These were some tips that can help in differentiating between a boil and pimple by Dr. Nivedita Dadu. You can keep the above listed things in mind for identifying a pimple or boil. They look very much similar but are completely different skin problems, that need different treatment as well. You can talk to your doctor or dermatologist about these symptoms.The expert will be able to tell you the exact problem after conducting a simple physical exam, for further treatment of your skin problem effectively.

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