Boils result when the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus enter the skin and cause an infection. S. aureus live on the skin of many people and thrive in warm, moist areas, such as the groin and inner thigh.

Boils can also spread under the skin and cluster. If this happens, the clusters form deeper abscesses called carbuncles, which may scar the skin.

The size and color of a boil on the inner thigh can vary, depending on how severe it is or the amount of skin involved. However, most boils tend to have a similar appearance.

This article explains the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention for boils on the thigh.

Fast facts about boils

  • Normally, boils are not a cause for concern and do not require medical attention.
  • It is usually not safe to drain boils at home.
  • There are many ways to prevent boils from forming on the inner thigh.
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Boils can appear anywhere on the body, including the inner thigh. While symptoms may vary in severity, most boils:

  • are round, swollen bumps
  • grow gradually
  • are tender and sensitive, sometimes even to air
  • eventually discharge a whitish-colored pus made up of dead tissue and blood cells
  • last for a few weeks

Boils may appear alone or as a group. Boils that form a group or cluster are collectively called a carbuncle.

Boils occur when the bacteria S. aureus invades the walls of a damaged or exposed hair follicle and colonizes it, causing infection.

According to a 2020 review article, 20% of people are long-term carriers of S. aureus. Being a carrier means that the bacteria lives on the surface of a person’s skin.

Carriers and people with boils can spread the bacteria through skin-to-skin contact or sharing objects, such as towels and sheets.

However, in most people, infections only occur when factors such as injury or friction break or compromise the skin’s natural barrier.

Anyone of any age can develop boils. They commonly appear in areas of the body prone to chafing, particularly the inner thighs.

Risk factors

Certain factors are known to increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), risk factors for boils include:

Specific factors may contribute to a higher risk of developing boils on the inner thigh. These include:

  • wearing loose or ill-fitting clothing while exercising
  • playing sports or doing exercises that cause chafing of the inner thighs, such as running, long-distance walking, hiking, or biking
  • wearing dirty clothing, particularly when exercising or engaging in activities that involve inner-thigh friction or sweating
  • walking or running in warm, humid climates
  • shaving, waxing, and other means of hair removal that break the surface of the skin

When a boil appears on the inner thigh, a person should clean the abscess and surrounding skin with warm, soapy water. They should avoid touching, rubbing, or applying pressure to a boil.

People should not squeeze or scratch a boil to rupture it, as this can increase the risk of complications or infection.

However, there are safe ways to draw the pus to the surface of the boil. These home remedies can increase pressure in the abscess, making the boil more likely to rupture.

Home remedies

When a boil first appears on the inner thigh, a doctor may recommend applying a warm antiseptic compress, along with an ointment called a drawing salve. A drawing salve usually contains ammonium bituminosulfonate.

Applying these to the boil speeds up its development, allowing it to drain and heal.

The following tips can also help when dealing with boils at home:

  • apply a warm compress against the boil for 10 minutes, four times daily
  • clean the surrounding area using an antibacterial soap if pus comes out of the boil
  • wash the hands regularly and clean the area around the boil
  • take painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to ease discomfort
  • cover a healing boil with gauze or a sterile bandage
  • regularly wash towels and bedding at a high temperature

People should avoid:

  • squeezing, piercing, or picking the boil
  • activities that cause friction between the inner thighs
  • sharing towels with other people until the boil has healed

Medical treatments

A doctor may need to cut into a boil to drain it. This may be necessary if a boil is very large or will not drain on its own. Incising might also be necessary in cases of chronic boils.

A doctor may also prescribe oral antibiotics to clear the infection. When boils are chronic or do not respond to oral medication alone, a doctor may prescribe topical antibiotic creams or antibiotic nasal sprays.

The following tips can reduce the risk of developing boils on the thigh:

  • use products designed to prevent chafing when playing sports or exercising
  • modify activities to lessen chafing
  • wash with soap and water daily
  • change and wash linens regularly
  • wear properly fitting, clean clothing while exercising.
  • avoid sharing towels, underwear, or sheets with other people, including family members
  • eat a balanced, nutritious diet
  • exercise regularly
  • avoid or stop smoking
  • maintain a moderate body weight
  • avoid sharing personal hygiene products, especially those capable of breaking the skin’s surface, such as razors
  • avoid skin injury where possible
  • exfoliate the thighs regularly after hair removal

Boils or furuncles are a common type of skin abscess. Most will rupture on their own. After a boil drains, it tends to heal within a few weeks.

In some cases, boils can lead to complications, including scarring and painful clustering deep beneath the skin’s surface. These clusters of boils are called carbuncles.

If left untreated, severe boils or carbuncles can lead to life threatening conditions. These may include systemic infections, which can compromise the bloodstream or the entire body.

Some boils on the inner thigh will require medical attention. Consult a doctor about boils that:

  • will not fully drain
  • do not fully heal within a few weeks of rupturing
  • are very painful and do not respond to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medications
  • become more painful and swollen after rupturing
  • seem to be spreading to new tissues
  • feel soft and spongy
  • are clustered or blistering
  • are surrounded by a patch of skin that is painful, abnormal in color, or otherwise looks unhealthy

A person should also see a doctor if a boil appears at the same time as any of the following symptoms:

People at risk of complications

Some individuals have a higher risk of complications from boils and are more likely to require medical attention.

People with the following conditions should consider talking with a doctor about their boils:

  • autoimmune conditions
  • diabetes
  • people at risk for endocarditis, such as those with congenital or developed heart conditions
  • anemia
  • conditions that require management that weakens the immune system, such as chemotherapy

Blow are some common questions about boils on the inner thigh.

Are thigh boils normal?

Boils commonly appear in areas of the body prone to chafing, including the inner thighs.

Although boils most often develop on the face or neck, they can also develop on the thighs, groin, and other parts of the body.

Why does a person keep getting boils?

Boils develop when S. aureus invades the walls of hair follicles that are damaged or exposed. Those who experience recurrent boils may be carriers of this bacteria. A 2020 article notes that 20% of the general population are persistent carriers.

A 2018 article notes that if a person develops boils often, they may have a medical condition that results in a weakened immune system. People with recurrent boils should contact a doctor.

How does a person pop a boil with no head?

People should avoid popping a boil, regardless of whether it has a head. This is because squeezing or popping a boil can cause the bacteria to infect the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in complications.

Instead, a person should contact a doctor to find out the best course of treatment for them.

Learn more about whether a person should pop a boil.

A boil on the thigh will often go away on its own. It will typically be a round lump that grows slowly and fills with pus. It may be tender or red.

Chafing can make boils more likely on the thighs. People can use home remedies, such as a warm compress, to encourage a boil to rupture and heal.

Talk with a doctor about boils that do not heal on their own, are very large, or are complicated by additional symptoms or conditions.