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5 Tips on How to Get Rid of Boils

5 Tips on How to Get Rid of Boils
Shweta Chaubey

That red bump on your face? It might not be regular run-of-the-mill acne or a pimple. People often mix up pimples, cysts, and boils, but they're quite different. While you must have heard a lot about cysts or pimples, boils are often less talked about. This article is to help you understand what it is and how to get rid of boils.

How to get rid of boils

Treatment Options What They Do
1. Tea Tree Oil Minimize the bacterial growth
2. Heat Pads or Compresses Bring the boil to a head
3. Surgical Incision Drains the pus out
4. Topical or Oral Antibiotics Heals larger boils
5. Packing Strip Prevents infection and promotes healing

What is a boil?

A boil or a furuncle is a type of contagious skin infection that happens when bacteria get into a hair follicle or oil gland. It can start as a small, red lump that becomes more and more painful as it fills with pus. These are usually caused by a bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus, which can enter the skin through a cut, scratch, or hair follicle. When someone has a boil, the skin around the affected area may become swollen and warm.

Over time, boils start to fill up with pus, a combination of dead skin, immune cells, and bacteria. As the bump grows in size, the pressure inside it increases until it finally bursts open, and the pus and other contents are released.

Symptoms of a boil

At first, a boil appears as a firm, red, and sore bump about the size of a small pea. Within a few days, the bump tends to become more tender, bigger, and more painful. Eventually, a collection of pus forms on the top of the boil. Here are some of the signs of a boil you must look out for -

  1. Red bumps: The first stage is marked by the appearance of a painful, red bump on the skin.
  2. Formation of Pus: As the infection progresses, a bump enlarges and forms a yellow or white center filled with pus.
  3. Pain and Swelling: Boils are often accompanied by pain, swelling, and warm sensations in the affected area.

What causes boils

As mentioned above, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is often the primary culprit for boils and carbuncles (a cluster of boils). The bacteria enter the skin through a cut or break, infecting a hair follicle or oil gland. Factors that may contribute to the development of boils include -

  • compromised immunity
  • poor hygiene
  • friction
  • any underlying skin condition (such as eczema or psoriasis)

What do boils look like

Boils usually begin as a reddish, swollen area on the skin. Over time, pus fills up in the center of the bump, and the skin around it may become inflamed and puffy. Eventually, the boil can break open, allowing the pus to drain out and easing any discomfort.

Common boil locations

Boils are a type of skin infection that can happen when bacteria enter your skin through a cut or hair follicle. They can appear in areas of your body where you sweat or where there is friction. Some common places where boils can appear are -

  • groin
  • buttocks
  • face
  • eyelid

5 Tips on How to Get Rid of Boils

Boil Self-Care: 5 Tips on How to Get Rid of Boils

1. Use tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is a magical potion for hair and skincare. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties help fight infections. Applying diluted tea tree oil to the affected area can generally help get rid of boils.

According to a research paper on tea tree oil and its properties, it is concluded that tea tree oil can be beneficial for the treatment of -

  • Insect bites, small boils, and mild acne
  • Small superficial wounds
  • Relief of itching and irritation in cases of mild athlete's foot
  • Minor inflammation of the oral mucosa

2. Warm Compress

To promote the drainage of a boil, try using warm compresses or a heat pad. Apply heat for about 10 to 15 minutes several times a day for up to 3 days to encourage the boil to come to a head and drain. The heat will also help to improve blood circulation and speed up the healing process.


3. Have some antibiotics

While heat and essential oils can help get rid of small boils on the skin, larger ones may not heal so easily and require prescribed antibiotics. These antibiotics are either taken orally or used topically on the boil to treat them. Sometimes, antibiotics are also prescribed to be used to increase the chances of full post-surgical recovery. However, some studies suggest that systemic antibiotics had no benefits after the incision and drainage of a boil.

4. Use a packing strip

Once the boil starts to drain, clean the surrounding area and apply a packing strip to cover it to promote quicker healing. Packing a boil also prevents skin infection. Tightly woven cotton gauze packing strips are ideal for sterile drainage. These strips are ravel-resistant and do not fray or lint while helping treat open or infected wounds such as tunneling wounds or sinuses.

5. Get it incised and drained

Although a boil may drain on its own, sometimes it requires incision to facilitate proper drainage. When heat or antibiotics fail to help in draining a boil, your doctor may suggest a surgical incision and drainage. This operation usually takes 10-20 minutes, and local or general anesthesia is administered. During the procedure, the surgeon cuts the boil to allow the pus to drain out. Once the pus has been removed, the cavity must heal from the inside out, which means that the opening on the skin is left open.

How to prevent recurring boils

1. Keep it clean

To avoid the recurrence of furuncles, it is important to keep the skin clean and dry. Wash your hands properly before touching the affected area, and use lukewarm water to rinse the skin twice and pat it dry. Always use a fresh washcloth to dry the boil.

2. Wash your linens frequently

The pus can soil your linens and increase the risk of skin infection. Make sure your bed sheets, towels, and pillow covers are cleaned at least once every week.

3. If you have diabetes, keep a keen eye on your blood sugar levels

Although it is clear that diabetes does not directly cause boils, according to a Healthline article, changes in the blood sugar levels can make your skin more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Diabetes also reduces the body’s ability to heal wounds faster, which can lead to complications. If you have diabetes, keep a keen eye on your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy life.

When to seek a doctor's help?

You should see a doctor if:

  • the boil does not heal or gets larger
  • it lasts longer than 2 to 3 weeks
  • you have immense pain or inflammation around the area and a fever
  • you have recurring boils for many months
  • you have diabetes



Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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