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A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland.


We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on thiswe may earn a small commission. A boil is a bacterial skin infection that forms in hair follicles and oil glands. Boils usually develop in regions of the body that experience friction or pressure, such as the face, armpits, groin, shoulders, and buttocks.

Boils begin as painful, red bumps that develop a pus-filled head as they progress. Most boils burst, drain, and heal within 2 days to 3 weeks of forming. A boil on the eyelid is known as a stye. While it is never recommended to attempt to open or drain a boil at home, there are several relatively simple ways to help speed up the process naturally.

Boils: pictures, causes, symptoms and treatment

Most boils do not lead to scarring unless forced open. A collection of boils carbuncles and very large boils require medical attention to prevent the risk of serious complications, including sepsis and death. The safest, easiest way to remove a boil at home is to use a warm compress to speed up the natural drainage process. Warmth increases the pressure in the infected pore as it slowly draws pus and blood to the surface of the skin.

With regular application of a warm compress, the boil should eventually burst open and drain fully.

What are boils (skin abscesses)?

As long as the opened boil is kept clean, dry, and protected, it should heal within a few days to weeks depending on its size and location. Using anti-inflammatory and pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce the pain, swelling, and redness associated with boils as they heal. Typically, antibiotic ointments and creams are not helpful in treating boils, as they do not penetrate infected skin or pores.

It is essential never to force a boil to burst or open at home. If boils cluster together or develop into pockets deep under the skin cellulitisthey can burst and leak the infection into the bloodstream. If left untreated, bacterial bloodstream infections can cause organ failure, sepsis, comatoxic shock syndrome, and eventually death. While less studied, several additional home remedies have been shown to encourage boils to drain or improve healing time naturally. According to a studyone community in Northern India uses at least 32 individual plant species to treat boils.

In general, the recovery process can be sped up by applying any compound that improves blood flow, is immune boosting, or has antibacterial, antiviral, or antifungal properties. There are several ways to reduce the risk of getting boils, but there is no way to prevent the risk of developing them entirely. If a boil gets worse after draining or does not improve on its own with basic home care after a week or more, a doctor should rule out infection.

Home remedies for boils

Rarely, however, boils can cause complications, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Boils that do not begin to improve within a week, have severe symptoms, are very large, or seem to be clustered or deep in the skin require medical attention and commonly antibiotic treatment.

A person should never attempt to burst a boil at home for any reason, as this may lead to serious health complications. Applying a warm compress several times each day will often encourage the boil to drain naturally.

Although studies are limited, several herbal remedies have been shown to speed up the boil drainage and healing processes. Learn about what causes boils on the buttocks and how to treat them, including home remedies.

Is it a pimple or a boil?

We also look at identifying boils and when to see a…. Boils and pimples may have similar appearances, but they often have different causes. Learn how to tell boils from pimples and treat outbreaks. Carbuncles and furuncles are types of skin abscess. When a hair follicle becomes infected, it can fill with pus and swell, to form a painful, red bump.

Boils on the inner thigh can appear as red, swollen bumps. We take a look at these hair follicle infections, their risk factors, and home remedies. Home remedies for boils. Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, M. How to get rid of a boil Ten natural remedies for boils Tips for prevention Possible complications Outlook We include products we think are useful for our readers.

How to get rid of a boil.

Share on Pinterest Using a warm, slightly damp compress on the site of the boil will allow it to open. Ten natural remedies for boils. Share on Pinterest Pressing fresh garlic and applying the extracted juice onto the boil may help it heal. Tips for prevention. Possible complications. Share on Pinterest Boils may cause complications including infections and scarring. Related Coverage. How to get rid of boils on the buttocks.

Latest news

Medically reviewed by Judith Marcin, M. Is it a pimple or a boil? Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. What are furuncles and carbuncles? Medically reviewed by University of Illinois. What causes boils on the inner thigh?

Popular users


A boil is caused by a bacterial skin infection.


Individuals who have ingrown hairs may experience a painful acne-like eruption after shaving.


Pimples and boils are troublesome skin problems that can sometimes cause similar symptoms.