Boils in the armpit


A boil is inflammation of the follicle of the hair

Boil. Most people associate this term with the thought of an unpleasant skin appearance or a large pimple. They can appear anywhere on the body. But what exactly are these purulent pustules from a medical point of view? We take the example of a boil in the armpit. What can be done, both therapeutically and preventively, and more importantly: is the boil a dangerous disease?


A boil is the Inflammation of a hair follicle (also called hair follicles, corresponds to the hair root in the skin) and affects everyone Layers of skin right into the subcutaneous fatty tissue. This leads to the melting of tissue and the accumulation of pus. A boil can be the precursor to one Abscess be. If several boils appear next to each other, one speaks of one carbuncle.

Causes of a boil in the armpit

Boils are caused by bacteria. Usually the genus Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for this. In many people they are part of the natural skin flora and only become a problem when they find a portal of entry into the body in the form of a small wound or the person has a weakened immune system. This can be the case with treatment with some medications or with certain diseases (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease, HIV infection). Staphylococci produce some substances that allow them to escape the body's own defense system and spread into the body in a cavernous manner.

If a body hair is now damaged, e.g. By shaving or rubbing on tight clothing under the armpits, the bacteria can use this as a gateway into the hair follicle and multiply there and trigger inflammation.

Read more about this under Causes of a boil

Symptoms of a boil in the armpit

Symptoms of a boil are very similar to symptoms of inflammation. The affected area is reddened and overheated, it hurts when touched or moved, sometimes even at rest. A swelling can be felt in the form of a lump, which comes from the accumulation of pus around the hair follicle as well as from the attacked surrounding tissue. Usually the middle of the boil can be seen as a white-yellowish point or point. After a few days, the boil usually empties on its own, it opens and the pus can drain away. This will take the tension off the tissue and ease the pain.


Boils in the armpit can be extremely painful. Due to the unfortunate localization, the boil is exposed to constant mechanical stress and friction. Tight-fitting clothing and sweating under the armpits intensify these effects and make the boil even more painful. The pain manifests itself as a pulling and throbbing sensation of moderate to severe intensity. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, as well as cooling can help against the pain of a boil in the armpit. However, one should be careful with cooling compresses, as no strong pressure should be exerted on the boil. Often times, an incision of the boil by a doctor will provide relief, allowing the pus to drain and healing can be achieved.

Treatment of a boil in the armpit

Boils don't always need to be presented to a doctor. A doctor should only be consulted in the case of boils in the head area (because of the proximity to the brain and spinal cord) or those that do not heal on their own after a few days.

In the case of boils in the armpit, only topical therapy is often necessary. There are different components. First of all, antimicrobial ointments or poultices should be used. Moist compresses with polyhexanide or polyvidone-iodine tinctures (Betaisodona) are a good therapy option. Both the boil itself and the surrounding tissue are treated. Solutions with marigold extract can also be used as a naturopathic alternative.

This article might interest you: Betaisodona wound gel

Furthermore, the boil ripening, i.e. the time until the boil is emptied, can be accelerated by irradiating with an infrared heat lamp. In addition, so-called pull ointments can be used, which also accelerate the maturation. Ichthyol ointments in 10, 20 or 50% concentration are recommended.

Read more about the topic: Ointment for a boil

Never try to open the boil manually! In case of doubt, pressing or squeezing only causes more injuries to the skin, which serve as further entry points for the bacteria and worsen the infection. If the boil does not empty on its own or is very painful, the doctor can surgically open it with a small incision under sterile conditions. The cave is then flushed with Betaisodona and connected.

Read more on the subject at: Operation of a boil

In the case of more severe courses or boils on the face, an antibiotic in tablet form should always be given for several days. The standard for this is penicillin, in the event of intolerance, erythromycin or roxythromycin can also be used.

In general, physical rest also applies. As a rule, the boil then heals without complications, but unfortunately often with the formation of a small scar.

Read more on this topic at: Treatment of a boil

Should I prick the boil in the armpit?

A boil in the armpit should never be pricked as this can lead to complications. Among other things, improperly pricking a boil in the armpit can lead to the development of an abscess and, in the worst case, to sepsis. The latter is a spread of the pathogens into the bloodstream. Fever and a general impairment of the circulatory system that is life threatening are the consequences of such sepsis. A boil in the armpit should only be opened by a knowledgeable doctor under sterile conditions.

Read more on the subject at: Operation of a boil

Home remedies

There are a few home remedies that can be used for a boil in the armpit. However, when using home remedies, it is important not to manipulate the boil. This means, for example, that the boil should not be squeezed out or otherwise mechanically stressed. Various home remedies are recommended for boils in the armpit. This includes the application of soothing compresses. These can be soaked, for example, with chamomile tea, aloe vera or propolis-Tinkur. The latter in particular is said to have an antibacterial effect. However, it should be noted that propolis, like tea tree oil, is not tolerated equally well by everyone and can also trigger allergies. At best, both home remedies should be tested beforehand on a healthy area of ​​skin. Furthermore, the application of garlic compresses, thyme extract and black tea bags is said to have a calming effect on the boil in the armpit.

Are there complications - is armpit eczema dangerous?

If the boil cannot open so that the pus and bacteria can drain away, this can lead to greater tissue melting and a full-blown abscess. This then has to be treated surgically and takes longer to heal.

If the bacterial infection spreads from the skin to the lymphatic system, one speaks of lymphangitis (inflammation of the lymph vessels) or lymphadenitis (inflammation of the lymph nodes). This can be seen in the reddening of the skin spreading along the lymph vessels or swollen and painful lymph nodes.

Read more on this topic: Lymphangitis - How Dangerous Is It?

This can be difficult to assess in the armpit if the boil is also located there. General warnings are fever, chills, or general malaise (feeling limp and tired). At this point at the latest, a doctor should be consulted, as there is now a risk of sepsis. Sepsis is blood poisoning because this is where bacteria enter the normally sterile blood. This condition is potentially life threatening. Sepsis, however, is an extremely rare complication of the boil. Lymphangitis / adenitis can also be dealt with very quickly with an antibiotic and bed rest.

Boils in pregnancy

Boils in the armpit can also develop during pregnancy. Some people tend to develop abscesses and boils more frequently in their life. If a boil occurs during pregnancy, this is initially nothing to worry about. The boil can usually be adequately treated with the help of local disinfectants and antibiotic ointments. However, if the inflammation is severe, in most cases a doctor will open the boil and drain the pus. The boil should not be pushed on by yourself, otherwise abscesses can develop. An abscess can threaten pregnancy. Such a complication must therefore be avoided in any case.


The bacteria on our skin are always present, so prophylactic measures can only be taken to prevent them from entering our bodies.

Sufficient Personal hygiene is an important factor here. For example, if you have frequent boils after shaving your armpits, the Skin to be disinfected. Using shaving foam and changing the blades regularly prevents skin irritation. Furthermore should be tight clothes should be avoided so that the skin is not chafed.

More information

  • Treatment of the boil
  • Nasal furuncle
  • Boils on the bottom
  • Boil ointment
  • Boils on the face
  • Boils on the leg
  • Boils in the neck
  • Boils in the genital area
  • Boils of the chest

Further information on related topics can be found at:

  • Betaisodona wound gel
  • Treatment of the abscess
  • Forms of the abscess
  • Empyema
  • Skin changes
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Pull ointment

A list of all topics related to dermatology that we have already published can be found under: Dermatology A-Z