Skip to Content
Patient Information Leaflets (PILs)

These Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) are specially written by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).

Please note:

  1. There are thousands of different skin complaints, therefore, the focus of the British Association of Dermatologists' PILs production is on the most common, rarest or debilitating skin conditions.
  2. The offer to provide details of source materials used to inform the British Association of Dermatologists' PILs is for instances where the advice provided in the PILs does not reflect local practice and therefore evidence supporting said advice needs to be produced. It is not an offer to conduct literature searches or supply bibilographic materials for your own research.

For the latest BAD advice on Covid-19 for patients, please check the News and Media section of the website. Find this here. Our information for healthcare professionals is here.


A boil, or furuncle, is an abscess (infection) of the skin or in the deep part  hair follicles. The infection is usually caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)Occasionally the infection may spread into the surrounding tissues (cellulitis) and can cause fever and a feeling of being unwell. When several boils form close together and join, this is known as a carbuncle. Sometimes rarer types of S. aureus: Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), can cause boils. PVL may cause larger and more painful boils (see Patient Information Leaflet on PVL Staphylococcus Aureus (PVL-SA) skin infection).

The bacteria causing the boil can occasionally spread from one part of the body to another and from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact and from clothing and towels which have been contaminated with pus from the boil. This is especially true when boils are caused by the PVL strain of S. aureus bacteria. Boils are common in teenagers and can affect boys more often than girls. Sufferers of boils do not usually have a problem with their immune system, but boils can be more severe in patients with a suppressed immune system. Boils are more common in patients with diabetes and those who are overweight. 

Back to top