Diabetic Boils on Buttocks: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

People with diabetes are more prone to getting skin infections and conditions. Boils are a fairly common occurrence in people with diabetes. A boil is a type of skin infection, usually bacterial, that begins deep inside the skin and usually involves the hair follicle. Also known as a furuncle, boils usually appear like red lumps or bumps on the skin, and they fill up with pus as time passes. While boils can develop anywhere on the body, but it is quite common for them to occur on the buttocks.(123)

Let us take a look at some of the common causes of diabetic boils on the buttocks and how you can identify if you have a diabetic boil on the buttocks.

Link Between Diabetes and Skin Conditions

Diabetes is one disease that can affect every part of your body, including the largest organ – the skin. In fact, in many cases, skin problems are usually the first sign that a person has diabetes. While some skin conditions can be worrying, most are generally harmless cosmetic issues. Nevertheless, it is essential to take good care of your skin and to be vigilant for any changes in your skin. At the same time, diabetes can also worsen any existing skin problems.(45)

Diabetes makes a person more susceptible to developing skin conditions, especially if they are not managing their blood sugar levels properly. Over a period of time, persistent high blood sugar can cause damage throughout the body, including to the blood vessels. Damage to your nerves and blood vessels leaves you vulnerable to getting infections, and it also slows down the body’s healing capabilities. Here are some of the reasons why you are more susceptible to developing skin problems if you have diabetes:

  • Damage to the nerves and blood vessels, which reduces blood circulation and flow to the skin. This reduced blood circulation causes certain changes in collagen, which affects the skin’s ability to heal, appearance, and texture.
  • In people with diabetes, the white blood cells become less capable of defending the body against infections.
  • Damage caused to the skin cells impacts the ability to sweat, increasing your sensitivity to pressure and temperature and leading to skin infections.
  • Nerve damage in people with diabetes, known as diabetic neuropathy, reduces sensation on the skin, which makes it more challenging to notice injuries or wounds. If these injuries are left untreated, they can cause more complications.(67)

Symptoms of Diabetic Boils on the Buttocks

The most commonly observed symptom of a boil on the buttock is a red, painful, and tender lump or bump on the skin. You are also likely to notice purple or red discoloration of the skin around the bump, along with some swelling. Even though the bump is small, usually the size of a pea, from the start itself, it is painful and tender. Soon it becomes hard or firm, but as it continues to grow and fill with pus, the spot becomes softer. In some time, a white or yellow tip will form on top of the boil, and it will rupture. If the boil bursts, pus will leak out of it, though there are some boils that do not rupture and just end up crusting over. A boil can also discharge clear liquid, and it can continue getting bigger. Some boils may even grow as big as a golf ball.

However, there are many other skin conditions that appear like boils, including infected sebaceous cysts, cystic acne, and some other skin infections.

Diagnosing a Diabetic Boil on the Buttocks

It is better to visit a dermatologist to have the boil looked at. Diagnosing a boil on the buttock is an easy process, as your doctor is usually able to identify it with a visual and physical examination. If the boil is draining, a sample of the fluid might be collected to test for certain bacteria, especially MRS or methicillin-resistant S. aureus. This is a special type of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that can survive against many types of medication, especially antibiotics. In fact, MRSA is immune to most types of antibiotics, which is why it remains on the skin, and it is challenging to treat such an infection. MRSA skin infections can also cause more severe complications, including complicated pneumonia and fatal deep-tissue infections.(8910)

Other types of bacteria can also cause a boil on the buttock, especially if they get into an oil gland or a hair follicle.

Your doctor might also collect urine and blood samples to check for your diabetes levels, any systemic infections, or any other health conditions.

In some cases, nasal swabs might be taken from close family members to check if they are also carriers of the MRSA bacteria.

Treatment for Diabetic Boils on the Buttocks

Depending on the exact location, size, and other health factors, treating diabetic boils on the buttocks usually involves warm compresses and observation. If the boil gets larger, your doctor will perform a procedure known as incision and drainage, where a small incision is made on the head of the boil, and the pus is drained out. In many cases, this procedure lets the boil heal on its own without needing to take a course of antibiotics.

However, if the infection becomes severe or the boil starts growing rapidly and spreads into the surrounding tissue, it might be necessary to take antibiotics.

In case you are infected by MRSA, it can be very challenging to remove MRSA from the body. Because of this reason, other people in your house might also have to be treated to reduce the presence of the MRSA bacteria. This is especially so if there are other family members as well who have developed skin infections.


In most cases of diabetic boils on the buttocks, small ones tend to heal on their own within a week or two. Home remedies like warm compresses can help speed up the healing process. If the boils are getting bigger, causing other symptoms, or not healing on their own, you may require incision and drainage or undergo treatment with antibiotics.

When you have diabetic boils on the buttocks, recurrence is one of the common complications that many people experience. Boils caused by MRSA, though, are more likely to lead to serious complications and need to be treated properly. Boils that are not caused by MRSA, though, are usually harmless and do not cause any long-term adverse effects. However, they may leave a scar behind.


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