Home Remedies to Try for Boils

By Zina Semenovskaya, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
August 19, 2022

Boils are painful, pus-filled bumps that form under the surface of your skin.

They are larger than pimples and may also be referred to as skin abscesses when they are large or carbuncles when there are several of them together.

They should never be picked at or popped, doing this could worsen or spread the infection.

The good news is that there are many home remedies to try for boils, including warm compresses, tea tree oil, and more. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to treat boils at home, what causes them, the signs and symptoms of boils, and how to know when to seek medical care for a boil.

Home Remedies for Boils

There are many home remedies that may be effective for treating boils. Some of the most popular treatments are detailed below:.

Warm compresses

Heat improves circulation and may help increase the clustering of white blood cells in the area.

Some people refer to this as “drawing out” the infection. In reality, when white blood cells cluster, it allows the body’s immune system to destroy the bacteria that are causing the infection.

Heat is one of the best ways to treat boils.

Apply a warm compress to the affected area for 20 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times per day as needed until the boil is gone.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree is an essential oil that has antibacterial properties.

It may help to decrease the inflammation and treatthe bacteria causing the boil. 

Never apply undiluted tea tree oil to a boil. Instead, add 5-6 drops of tea tree oil to a teaspoon of a carrier oil, like coconut or olive oil.

Place the mixture on a cotton swab and apply a small amount to the boil 2-3 times per day. Repeat daily until the boil resolves.

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Turmeric powder

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that make it an excellent home remedy for boils. Mix turmeric powder with a little water and apply it directly to the boil as a paste. 

Reapply 1-2 times daily until the boil is gone.

Epsom salt

Epsom salt may be used to soak the boil or can be used to make a warm compress.

The salt can help to reduce inflammation and dry out the pus, helping to resolve the boil.

Dissolve Epsom salt in warm water. Depending on where the boil is, soak the affected area directly in the water or soak a compress in it.

Apply the compress to the boil for 20 minutes at least 3 times daily until the boil is healed.

Castor oil

Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to a compound known as ricinoleic acid. It also has antibacterial properties.

Apply small amounts of pure castor oil directly to the boil at least 3 times a day until the boil is gone.

Neem oil

Neem oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

Apply small amounts of pure neem oil to boils 3-4 times per day. Wash your hands before and after applying the neem.

Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment

Over-the-counter antibiotic cream, like Neosporin, can be effective for treating boils.

It can work quickly and help provide relief from the pain. Use the cream at least twice daily until the boil is healed.

What Are Boils?

A boil is a skin infection that is caused by bacteria. Boils form in the oil glands or hair follicles under the surface of the skin. 

They tend to form in areas that get friction or trapped heat, such as:

  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Shoulders
  • Buttocks
  • Eyelids (known as a stye)

Initially, boils may appear like a pimple, but quickly become more painful, red bumps that fill with pus. They typically resolve on their own within 2-21 days. 

Home remedies or OTC treatments can speed the time of healing. Never drain or pop boils at home.

This can spread the bacterial infection or lead to other complications. 

Carbuncles, which are clusters of boils, require medical attention to prevent more serious infection.

They come with an increased risk of sepsis, a serious systemic bacterial infection, and may become life-threatening.

Causes

Boils are common and frequently caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

Some people may only ever get one boil while others may experience boils as a recurring problem.

Risk factors for boils include:

Symptoms

Common symptoms and signs of boils are:

  • Painful bump under the skin
  • Pus
  • Swelling
  • Redness
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When To Seek Medical Attention for Boils

If you have a boil that does not respond to home remedies or OTC treatment, see a medical provider.

This is especially important if any of the following apply to you:

  • The boil keeps getting bigger
  • It is the size of a ping pong ball or larger
  • There other lumps near the boil or you have multiple boils
  • The boil is extremely painful
  • The skin is bright red or has streaks coming out from it
  • You have had it for more than a week
  • You get recurring boils
  • You have diabetes

If a boil is very large or has been unresponsive to home treatments, a medical provider may need to drain it.

This should never be done at home because the drainage needs in a sterile environment to prevent additional infection or complications.

This can generally be done at an office or clinic, but occasionally can require a procedure in the operating room if it’s an especially large or complex infection.

If you have a red, painful swelling and are not sure if it is a boil, a medical provider can do a physical examination and make an accurate diagnosis.

They can then recommend an effective course of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to cure a boil at home?
Warm compresses are the most effective way to treat small boils at home. Apply directly to the area for 20 minutes, at least 3-4 times per day. You can also add Epsom salt, tea tree oil, or neem oil to compresses for additional benefits in treating boils.
How do you get rid of a boil fast?
Boils can resolve on their own anywhere from 2 days to 3 weeks. Using warm compresses or Epsom salt soaks can help address the infection more quickly. Additionally, you should never pop a boil. Not only will this not cure the infection, it can also spread the bacteria or make the infection worse.
How do you get rid of boils overnight naturally?
Warm compresses, antibiotic cream like Neosporin, and Epsom salt soaks can work quickly to provide relief from boils. Use a warm compress for 20 minutes, up to 3-4 times per day. Overnight, apply Neosporin cream to help address the bacteria and clear up the infection. Depending on the size of the boil, over-the-counter treatments can help it clear up within a few days.
How do you get rid of a boil fast overnight?
Apply warm compresses to boils for 20 minutes during the day. Over night, apply antibiotic cream, castor oil, or neem oil to help draw out the infection and allow the body to heal. While this may not lead to the boil going away overnight, it will help it heal faster.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

Zina Semenovskaya, MD

Dr. Semenovskaya specializes in emergency medicine, and received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. She is currently the medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, LLC and splits her time working clinically as an emergency medicine attending in California and Alaska. She is the first of our doctors to be fluent in Russian.

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