Home Boil Treatments

Home boil treatments: learn how to treat boils at home without suffering cross contamination.

Boils are painful, often deep, bacterial infections which most often occur at the site of a hair follicle. Boils can be found on the skin of the neck, face, breasts, buttocks and chest area.


A dome shaped, painful nodule.

Tender bumps on the skin which appear larger each day.

Red, swollen, puffy areas of skin which ooze clear, yellow or red fluid.


Swelling of nearby lymph nodes or glands.

Pain at the site of the infected area.


Because boils are contagious, touching the skin after handling a boil or improperly treating a boil can cause spreading to other areas of skin. Multiple boils which appear on the skin as clusters of raw, red, irritated skin are called "carbuncles." These types of boils form small tunnels underneath the skin and are best treated by a physician.


Infection anywhere in the body.

Staphylococcus bacteria, sometimes spread through sharing hairbrushes, towels, washcloths and other items.

Poor hygiene.

Poor nutrition.

Illness, such as cold or flu.

Diabetes and other diseases which lower the immune system.


Small boils will often heal themselves within 10-15 days, if no other infection or illness is present in the body. However, many boils do require treatment. Boils can usually safely be treated at home. Remember, if a boil fails to respond to treatment or symptoms become increasingly worse, you should seek your doctor's attention.

PREVENT spreading boils to other areas of your body by using fresh towels or disposable paper towels with each treatment and washing. Also, wash hands immediately after touching the boil. Cross-contamination is often worse than the original boil.

TAKE hot showers at least twice daily, instead of baths. The added heat and moisture will help the boil to open and drain on its own. Baths tend to spread bacteria to other areas of skin.

APPLY warm water heat to the boil using warm or heated cloths or a hot water bottle. This can be done 3-4 times daily for up to 20-minutes at a time.

OVER-THE-COUNTER pain medications can be used for painful boils.

TAKE Vitamin C during boil treatments to help boost the immune system.

DRAWING salves, particularly natural or herbal varieties, can be applied after heat therapy to draw the infection away from the body. Apply salves after a hot water treatment or shower and cover the area with cotton gauze.

Once heat has been applied for several days in a row, the boil's outer coating of skin will appear thinner. This most often means the boil is getting ready to drain. DO NOT pop a boil. Popping a boil will only contaminate surrounding skin. Instead, apply a clean, cotton bandage or gauze pad over the boil before bedtime. This will allow the boil to drain naturally, exposing only a small amount of skin to the bacteria. After the boil drains, wash the area thoroughly and cover with a bandage or cotton gauze three times daily or until the area has healed completely. Not covering the boil after drainage has occurred may cause reinfection to the same hair follicle or skin area.

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