How to Treat a Boil at Home (And When to Go to The Doctor)

treat a boil at home

A boil, or abscess, is an infected pus filled bump under the skin. Boils are often the result of an infected hair follicle or clogged skin pore. Symptoms of a boil include redness, tenderness, swelling, and warmth in the affected area. Some boils will also have a white or yellowish “head” that looks like a pimple.

Boils are are extremely uncomfortable and painful for most people, and they often form in the folds of the skin, under the arms, and in the groin are. Proper treatment and care of a boil is very important, since the infection can easily spread without proper precautions.

Fortunately, most people can often treat a boil at home, without the need for a doctor. Here are a few steps you can take to treat a boil at home.

#1. Keep the area clean! Wash it with mild antibacterial soap and water a couple of times a day. Not only will this help prevent the infection from worsening, it can also help prevent spreading the bacteria to others. Also, when you treat a boil at home, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly whenever you touch the area.

#2. Apply warm compresses. A dam warm washcloth works well, but you can also use a homemade warm pack made from—don’t laugh!—rice in a sock. Just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, place it in a plastic bag, and place it on the area. The heat will help soften the area and bring the boil to a head so it can drain. Apply heat to the area several times per day.

#3. Try a drawing salve. Smile’s Prid Homeopathic salve works like a charm when you’re trying to treat a boil at home. Use it in conjunction with heat, and most boils should come to a head and drain on their own within a few days. Just apply Prid drawing salve and cover it with a bandage; don’t forget to change the dressing a couple of times a day. This salve is relatively cheap, and it’s definitely worth a try for most boils!

As much as you want to treat a boil at home to avoid high doctor bills, boils aren’t something you want to mess with. If not treated properly, the infection can spread, and they can become dangerous.

Below are a few signs that you need to stop trying to treat a boil at home and consult a doctor:

  • Fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Lasts longer than 2 weeks
  • More than a couple inches in diameter
  • Red lines radiating from the boil
  • Located on the spine
  • Worsens rapidly
  • Recurs