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Boils are always a pain, but when they're on your bottom, they're a real "pain in the butt"! What can you do to treat them, and when doo you need medical assistance?

Have you got what you suspect is a boil on your buttocks, or even worse, several? Boils, though always annoying, become pretty darn unbearable when they appear on the part of your body you sit on — particularly if you're in a sedentary job or otherwise spend much of your time sitting! The pressure not only makes your boil or boils more painful, it also delays the healing process. 

What can you do about boils on your buttocks? Can you treat boils on your buttocks at home, or do you need antibiotics for boils, or need to have your boils drained? Are the skin lesions on your butt even boils, or could they be something else?

What Are Boils, Again?

Boils, also called furuncles, are pus-filled pockets that result from an infection in a hair follicle. When multiple boils join together underneath the skin, it's called a carbuncle. Simple boils usually resolve on their own within a few weeks, but some become really quite large and cause a lot of pain. [1

Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is found on the skin in up to 20 percent of people, is usually to blame for boils. These bacteria are most commonly located around your nostrils, armpits, groin area, and the buttocks, making all these sites frequent "boil crime scenes". How does a bacterium that usually stays on the skin get into it, you may wonder? Small cuts or scrapes (including from shaving) can do the job, along with friction. It's no wonder that the buttocks, which so often rub against clothes as walk or sit down, are a common place for boils to develop! [2]

How To Treat A Boil On Your Buttocks

You can usually treat a boil on your buttocks yourself without consulting a doctor. The skin around your boil will be slightly red and tender, and the skin around the boil will become tighter and more painful as it prepares to burst open. During this time, and after your boil opens, the following steps will help your skin heal faster, lessen discomfort, and prevent infection:

  • Don't squeeze, pop, or otherwise try to open your boil! This only leaves you vulnerable to infection. 
  • Use warm, moist compresses on your boil several times a day. 
  • Gently wash the area with an antiseptic soap twice a day. 
  • Once the boil opens, use a sterile dressing to keep it covered. This will help prevent the fluids from infecting other parts of your body, or other people. In the same vein, avoid reusing towels and washcloths.
  • Feel free to use over-the-counter painkillers to minimize your discomfort. [3]
For a boil on the buttocks, another common-sense piece of advice would be to avoid sitting down all day — give your skin time to breathe, and take the pressure off your boil!

Contact your doctor if you notice a fever, if your boil doesn't resolve after two weeks or so, or if you are experiencing severe discomfort. [4] In this case, you may be offered boil medicine in the form of antibiotics, most commonly flucloxacillin, which is a penicillin. Your boil may also need to be drained with the help of a surgical incision. [2]

Approximately 10 percent of people who develop a boil will go on to develop recurring boils. This can happen in otherwise perfectly healthy folks, but people with compromised immune systems, diabetes, obese people, and smokers are more likely to experience recurring boils. [5]

It's Also Possible Your Boil Is Actually Something Else

To put it plainly, it's quite hard to get a really good look at the state of the skin on your bottom, and you may be reluctant to ask someone else — even your partner, if you have one — to take a really detailed look at nasty skin lesions. If you haven't been to the doctor for diagnosis, it's also possible that you are dealing with another skin problem on your buttocks. 

The genital and buttock area is particularly prone to boils resulting from MRSA, the super bug. Research reveals the vagina to be a reservoir for MRSA, which is a problem for women and their partners alike. [6] MRSA boils are particularly stubborn and lead to complications. This is one reason it's important to call your doctor if your boil just doesn't go away. 

Pilonidal disease is also characterized by boil-like masses in the crease of the buttocks and pus draining from the area. Unlike simple boils, however, pilonidal disease is a chronic skin condition that can lead to a pilonidal sinus, a kind of "cave" below the skin, with an opening to the outside. This condition sometimes requires surgery. [7]

Hidradenitis suppurativa is another condition that leads to nodules very closely resembling boils — and it leads to the periodic draining of pus as well. Unlike a simple boil, hidradenitis suppurative, also called acne inversa, leads to numerous nodules. It is a chronic condition that requires treatment with antibiotics, acne medications, and bleach washes. HS lesions on the buttocks occasionally become cancerous. [8, 9]

Boils On Your Butt: The 'Bottom' Line

You're at a higher risk of developing boils on your buttocks if you're in close contact with someone who has boils too. If your partner has boils, you may develop them as well. This is why using dressings and avoiding sharing towels is so important. You're also at a higher risk of developing boils if your immune system is weaker. [10]

Nonetheless, a boil on your butt shouldn't concern you too much; perfectly healthy people develop them too, and they usually go away without a doctor's help if you use simple home remedies for boils. Give your healthcare provider a call if you're in a lot of pain, are worried, the boil on your butt doesn't go away after two weeks or so, you have a fever, or you're starting to think your boil may be one of the other conditions we mentioned. 

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