Can Boils Be Caused by Stress?

Can Boils Be Caused by Stress?

Boils are painful bumps usually filled with pus. They manifest as tiny red, yellow or purple bumps.

This is usually caused due to a bacterial infection or infection arising from inflammation of the hair follicle. Other potential causes include poor hygiene, poor diet, friction and sweat. There may be psychological factors also that cause boils to occur.

That leaves behind the question, Can boils be caused by stress? Dive further into the article to find out if stress is a potential cause for boils to occur, and if so how to tackle and control the issue of getting boils due to stress.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Understanding Boils: What Are They?

Boils are tiny circular bumps found on the skin. They are usually filled with pus from under the skin and may burst after a while and drain the pus out. In some cases boils may be painful, but in some, they may not be. The below-mentioned characteristics help identify bumps:

  • Boils are usually benign. They are usually red, yellowish white and purple in colour. The yellowish-white colour usually means there is pus formation under the skin. Purple and red boils usually indicate that this is the beginning of the boil formation. A cherry red boil may indicate infection of some sort.
  • The boil grows in size to 2 inches, and pain increases as the pimple grows but it immediately subsides once the boil bursts and the pus is drained out.
  • After the boil bursts scarring may occur in some cases, but dead skin residue is seen in all cases after the boil bursts.
  • The boil may feel tender to touch, in some cases, one may experience moderate pain when the boil is touched.

What Causes Boils?

Boils can be caused due to several reasons, some of which include:

  • A weak immune system: A weak immune system simply means the body lacks the ability to fight back bacteria. Boils are formed due to bacterial infections resulting from the body’s inability to protect itself.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a prime cause of weakened immunity systems due to high blood sugar weakening the body’s strength to fight back. Hence, boils are a common occurrence, especially in the cases of those with diabetes.
  • Fungi and Bacteria: It is an established fact that bacteria and fungi lead to the development of boils. A specific bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus is the main cause of boils to occur due to an infection called staph infection.
  • Poor Hygiene: Not washing the body often and keeping oneself clean can result in excessive oil production and can cause the development of boils.
  • Skin conditions: Staph infections and eczema are common reasons for boils to manifest on the skin.
  • Skin irritation: Boils can result due to chemicals badly reacting with the skin. Some products may be unsuitable for certain skin types, in such a scenario a chemical reaction occurs causing boils to manifest.
  • Poor diet: Having an unhealthy diet and consuming fast food and oily food can cause boils to occur.

Part 2: Can Stress Cause Boils?

Can Stress Cause Boils

Yes, stress can cause boils. Stress is the driving force behind almost all health and skin complications. In the case of boils, stress is not a direct cause but, however, plays a key role in the weakening of the immune system which directly has an effect on the development of boils.

Stress has a direct and serious effect on the functioning of the immune system. When an individual is severely stressed, his immune system weakens. This is due to the fact that stress reduces the lymphocytes in our body. Lymphocytes are nothing but natural killer cells that help fight and ward off bacterial infections.

How Does Stress Impact Hormonal Imbalance?

Stress can cause hormonal imbalance, a little bit of stress can cause fluctuations in the production levels of cortisol, adrenaline,  glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin.  Hormonal levels can directly have an effect on skin health, some noticeable effects it can have are:

  • Flare-ups: Stress can cause the skin to flare up, this is because of inflammation caused due to stress, which often manifests in the form of eczema and psoriasis.
  • Acne: Pimples show up on the skin more often during periods of extreme stress, this is because there is a slight increase in oil production in the body.

Part 3: Relationship Between Stress and Boils

  • Stress causes a drastic increase in heat production in the body, which in turn poses a risk of developing boils. Extreme warmth and moisture are the main reasons behind the appearance of boils. Heat also causes pain and inflammation and makes the skin susceptible to infections.
  • Those individuals with sanguineous and bilious temperamental conditions are more vulnerable to the risk of contracting boils compared to those with Phlegmatic and Melancholic temperamental conditions. Sanguineous refers to hot and moist temperamental conditions, and Bilious refers to hot and dry temperamental conditions.
  • The Tibb view on boils explains in thorough detail how stress plays a key role in heat development and how that opens up the risk of developing boils. The view further suggests cooling methods to adapt to reduce stress and the appearance of boils.
  • Eating food with dominant cold factors, reducing partaking in stressful activities, indulging in exercises, cleaning one ’s self regularly and avoiding spicy and unhealthy food are suggestions offered by the Tibb view to help combat the effects of stress that cause boils.

Part 4: How To Reduce Stress To Minimise Boils? 

How To Reduce Stress To Minimise Boils

Eat a Healthy Diet

Diet is directly affected by stress. Stressful events can cause one to indulge in unhealthy eating habits, such as overeating, under-eating and eating unhealthy food. This change in diet will have an impact on skin health as well. Include fruits, vegetables and whole grains as a part of every meal.

Participating in Physical Activity

Exercise is a known method to reduce stress levels and keep them in check. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, minimal exercise such as walking for 30 minutes itself does wonders in managing stress levels. This is because the more exercise is done, the more endorphins are released.


Sleep is influenced by stress, extreme stress levels can alter the sleep cycle and cause an individual to sleep for less time than it is usually required for one to sleep. An adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep normally to function without any issues. If having trouble sleeping right, listening to soothing music, and sleeping in a room with minimal to no lighting can help.

Consult A Therapist

If stress seems to be seeping too much into and interfering with everyday activities, seek help from a counsellor or a therapist. Therapy will help customise effective coping strategies to help with stressful events and experiences.

Engage With Loved Ones

Stressful situations may push one to isolate themselves, at times as such it is best advised to engage in social interactions with loved ones. Social interactions can help with elevating mood and distracting one from the stressful experience.


Boils are painful bumps caused due to different factors such as diet, cleanliness, allergies, infections, stress and bacteria. They are benign and can be treated in most case scenarios. This article covers all one needs to know about what boils are and how to manage and tackle boils that develop due to stress.