Vaginal Boils

A boil is a form of infected skin sore that may appear in a variety of places on the body, including in the vagina or vulva (the external genitalia). Boils appear due to a bacterial infection in a hair follicle.

Learn more about boils in the vagina or vulva, symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatment, and prevention strategies.

Healthcare provider discusses person's symptoms of vaginal boils

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What Is a Boil?

A vaginal boil is an infected sore located in the genital area. A boil, also referred to as a furuncle, is a sore on the skin that appears due to an infection in a hair follicle. In the genital area, hair follicles are typically numerous on the labia around the vaginal opening.

A boil may appear in a number of places on the body, including:

  • Back of the neck
  • Face
  • Armpits
  • Back
  • Backside
  • Thighs
  • Groin

In some cases, boils will combine into a larger sore, referred to as a carbuncle.


A boil may take the appearance of a sore that is:

  • Sized from a pea up to a golf ball
  • Pink to red
  • Tender
  • Swollen
  • Firm

As time passes, it may feel as if the boil is filled with water, like a water balloon. As the boil fills with pus, it will be accompanied by pain.

Other features of boils include:

  • Fast growth
  • Pustules (appear as white or yellow in the center of the boil)
  • Crusting
  • Oozing
  • Weeping
  • Red skin surrounding the boil

In some cases, boils may be accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unwell
  • Fever
  • Itching

A boil may also spread to areas of the skin nearby, or connect with other boils to form what's called a carbuncle.


Boils are caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. Some people carry this form of bacteria on their skin. The reason for this has not been established. But it is believed that between 10% and 20% of people are carriers of this bacterium.

Staphylococcus aureus is often found in the armpits, nostrils, between the buttocks, and between the legs. In some cases, the bacterium can be spread to other parts of the body, from the fingernails or nostrils.

A graze or small cut on the skin can cause bacteria to enter the hair follicle. This then creates an infection and a boil.

Risk Factors

Some people are more prone to developing boils, as well as other infections of the skin follicles like folliculitis.

These include:

  • People with a weakened immune system
  • People with diabetes
  • People who have other skin infections
  • People who are receiving medicine through an intravenous line (IV)
  • People with an injury to the skin like a cut, scrape, or insect bite
  • People who have been in a hot tub or spa that has been poorly maintained or treated


In some cases, a boil will heal on its own. But more often the pain will increase as pus continues to build up inside the boil.

To encourage healing:

  • Apply a warm, moist compress to the boil multiple times a day. This will help speed up the draining and healing process.
  • Once the boil is open, continue to apply the compress to promote healing.

You should seek treatment from a healthcare provider if:

  • The boil persists for more than a week.
  • The boil is painful.
  • The boil is on the spine.
  • The boil is in the center of the face.
  • The boil returns.
  • The boil is accompanied by a fever or other symptoms.

In this instance, the boil needs to be drained to promote healing. This should only be done by a healthcare provider. Never attempt to squeeze or cut open a boil at home as this can cause the infection to spread.

In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend oral antibiotics or an antibiotic injection to promote healing.

It is important to keep the area around the boil clean. In order to keep the area clean:

  • Change the dressing on a boil often.
  • Clean the boil often.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching the boil.
  • Dispose of any dressing that has touched the boil in a sealed bag so infection isn't spread to others.
  • Do not share towels, washcloths, or other items that have touched the infected area.
  • Wash all sheets, towels, and items that have been in contact with the infected boil area in hot water.


It's not always possible to prevent boils. But there are some strategies to reduce risk. These include:

  • Properly clean cuts, grazes, or skin wounds (even if they are small).
  • Wash hands and skin thoroughly with an antibacterial soap regularly.
  • Use a sterile bandage to cover any wounds, cuts, or grazes on the skin until they have fully healed
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Shower daily.
  • Avoid picking the nose (Staphylococcus aureus may be present in the nose).
  • Be careful when shaving.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Boils may go away on their own, but if they don't heal within a week, make an appointment with a healthcare provider.

You should also make an appointment with a healthcare provider if:

  • The skin surrounding the boil feels hot or is painful.
  • Boils keep occurring.
  • Boils have formed a carbuncle.
  • You have a boil and also feel hot (feverish).
  • You have a boil and also have the chills.
  • You have a boil on your face.
  • You have a long-term condition like diabetes.


While unlikely, boils can lead to complications.

These may include:

  • Scarring that is permanent
  • Spread of infection to other parts of the body
  • Skin abscess (a walled-off area of infection)
  • Abscess of the spinal cord, kidneys or other organs
  • Sepsis (a serious whole-body response to an infection)
  • Infection of the spinal cord
  • Infection of the bones
  • Infection of the heart


A boil is an infected hair follicle that occurs in a number of areas of the body, including the pubic area. It is caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium may be carried on the skin in some people.

A boil may be red or pink, pus filled, and painful. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue or fever.

In some cases, boils will heal on their own. At other times, a healthcare provider may need to drain them or prescribe antibiotics.

The risk of boils may be reduced through good hygiene, including washing often with antibacterial soap and caring for wounds appropriately.

A Word From Verywell

Dealing with boils can be painful and unpleasant especially if they occur near the vagina. If you are experiencing a boil, don't be afraid to reach out to a healthcare provider for help. They will be able to provide you with symptom relief and treatment to heal the boil.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. MedlinePlus. Boils.

  3. Dermnet NZ. Boil.

  4. Cedars Sinai. Folliculitis, boils, and carbuncles.

  5. Mount Sinai. Boils.

  6. NI Direct. Boils and carbuncles.

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  8. NHS. Boils.