Boils during Pregnancy: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Prevention

How to Treat Boils and Painful Bumps During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in your body; these changes can range from common ones like morning sickness and back pain to less expected ones like boils. Yes, boils, those painful, red, swollen bumps on the skin, can be quite discomforting, especially when they appear during pregnancy. They happen in early pregnancy due to a number of factors, including hormonal imbalance. While these are common and not threatening when not pregnant, during pregnancy, minds kind of run on overdrive to keep the baby safe. So, can boils during pregnancy indirectly affect the unborn baby? If this topic has raised your eyebrow, then let’s together learn more about the causes, signs and treatment options for boils while pregnant.

What Are Boils?

Boils are red, swollen, and painful bumps under the skin. They happen due to a skin infection caused by parasitic bacteria. The bacteria enter the skin through the hair follicles or sweat glands and form a pus pocket. This leads to a lot of discomfort. However, the good news is that boils only last for a few weeks and can be prevented by maintaining hygiene.

What Are the Types of Boils?

The most common types of boils that occur during pregnancy include the following –

1. Pilonidal Cyst

A pilonidal cyst is a type of boil that occurs in the crack of the buttocks. If you happen to suffer from a pilonidal cyst, medical intervention will be required.

2. Furuncle/Carbuncle

A furuncle starts as a red lump in the initial stages. Once the pus forms, the boil bursts. While furuncles are the result of staphylococcal infection, carbuncles are groups of furuncles that can lead to scarring. Both furuncles and carbuncles can affect the face, neck, armpits, thighs, and buttocks.

3. Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is rare. It is believed to affect the underarms, underside of breasts, and the groin. Thug rare, it is a condition that could develop into something serious and cause pregnancy complications, and may require a potential surgery.

4. Cystic Acne

When harmful bacteria go deep into the skin, it results in cystic acne. This condition is characterised by bumps that are red, tender, and full of pus. If a cyst bursts and oozes out pus, it can lead to more boils. This kind of acne is generally seen on the face, chest, back, upper arms and shoulders.

5. Bartholin’s Cyst

Bartholin’s cyst is among the most prevalent cysts that women experience on the vulva. The Bartholin glands, situated on each side of the vaginal opening, play a crucial role in lubricating the vagina. However, if these glands get infected, they can lead to the formation of a Bartholin’s cyst. Typically, these cysts are small and painless lumps, but they can become swollen and highly uncomfortable if infected. If you suspect you have an infected Bartholin cyst, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

What Causes Boils During Pregnancy?

When women get boils during pregnancy, many of them ask themselves, ‘Why do I get boils when pregnant?’
The common causes of boils in pregnancy include the following –

  • Blocked oil ducts of sweat glands
  • Bacterial infection
  • Ingrown hair
  • A foreign object or splinter getting lodged in the skin

Factors that increase your chances of contracting boils in pregnancy are mentioned below –

  • Obesity
  • A weak immune system
  • Poor hygiene and diet
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Hormonal imbalance

Boils may not occur due to early or late pregnancy. There are four major factors that cause boils – poor hygiene, unhealthy foods, hormonal imbalance, and a repressed immune system.

Boils during pregnancy

How Are Boils Diagnosed?

Boils are diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Physical examination
  • Bacterial culture (it’s the process in which the pus is collected and sent to culture to identify which bacteria is causing the infection)
  • Assessment of symptoms and your medical history

Treatment for Boils During Pregnancy

Here are some ways to treat boils:

  • Taking antibiotics only prescribed by your doctor
  • Surgical treatment
  • A detoxifying diet
  • Home remedies such as warm compress
  • Avoiding activities that could cause sweating
  • Covering any wounds or cuts with dressing
  • For leaking boils, clean the area with antibacterial soap
  • Take pain-relieving meds for the pain as prescribed by the doctor

Do Boils Pose a Risk to Baby’s Health?

Boils don’t cause fetal deformities or miscarriages. However, if you take antibiotics for boils, you must make sure that they are safe for the foetus and won’t cause any harm.

Prevention Tips

As you know, prevention is better than cure, and it’s better to prevent boils rather than deal with them once they occur. If you are pregnant and in the early stages of your pregnancy, follow these tips to prevent boils in the first place –

  • Avoid wearing tight clothes.
  • Maintain hygiene.
  • Treat minor cuts and wounds immediately.
  • In case you suffer from diabetes or eczema, seek medical help.
  • Bathe or shower daily to prevent bacteria from breeding on the body.
  • Wear clean clothes and use clean towels to wipe your body and face.
  • Use clear bedsheets and bedding by washing them at a high temperature once a week.

Things to Avoid While Having Boil in Pregnancy

During a pregnancy boil, here are some things you must take care of:

  • First things first, do not pick at, poke, or squeeze the boil, wherever it is.
  • Do not share your personal items like lipsticks or towels with anyone else, as it could potentially spread the infection.
  • Do not go swimming as it could also spread the infection.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

Before trying any treatment for boils, consulting a doctor is a must. However, you should also speak to your doctor, in the following cases –

  • If the boil turns bigger and the pain is unbearable
  • If you have a fever
  • If the boil doesn’t dry up within a couple of months
  • If you have pregnancy boils in the pubic area or face
  • If you are a diabetic
  • If you have boils on your spine or anal area
  • If lumps develop around the original boil

Boils don’t cause any major complications in pregnancy. However, we recommend that you get medical help at the earliest if the boils don’t dry up within 2-3 weeks.


1. Why the skin condition hidradenitis suppurativa complicates pregnancy; Ut Southwestern Medical Center;

2. Lin. H. S, Lin. P. T, Tsai. Y. S, Wang. S. H, Chi. C. C; Interventions for bacterial folliculitis and boils (furuncles and carbuncles); Cochrane Database Syst Rev.; PubMed Central;; February 2021

3. Vaginal Boil; Cleveland Clinic;

4. Boils; NHS;


6. Boils and carbuncles; NiDirect;

Also read: 

Waxing during Pregnancy
Skin Changes during Pregnancy
Hives (Urticaria) when Pregnant

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