Boils - Treatment by Drugs - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which doctor should I consult for the treatment of boils?

A: You should consult a dermatologist or a skin specialist for the treatment of boils. Boils that need surgical drainage may be treated by a surgeon.


Q: How will the doctor know if my furunculosis is resistant to penicillin?

A: Before the administration of an antibiotic, doctors usually request for a laboratory test called culture and sensitivity. In this test, the discharge from the lesion is put in a medium where the bacteria present in it will grow. The bacteria are then exposed to several antibiotics to check if they are sensitive to a particular antibiotic or not. Ideally, an antibiotic should be started only after this test is done. However, since the test takes time, in serious cases, an antibiotic that is likely to be effective is used first, and is then changed according to the culture and sensitivity test report.

Q: What is the difference between a furuncle and a carbuncle?

A: Furuncles and carbuncles are both skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus. While a furuncle or a boil affects a single hair follicle, a carbuncle is a collection of boils under the surface of the skin.

Q: Can any local antibiotic be used for the treatment of a furuncle?

A: No. Only antibiotics that are effective against Staphylococcus aureus will be effective in treating a furuncle. Some local antibiotics like polymyxin have no effect and therefore will not be useful.