Boils – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A Boil is a bacterial infection, that develops around a hair follicle. It is filled with pus. Boils are contagious in nature, and can cause potential problems if the infection spreads.

Starting out as a tender, red bump which is soft in consistency, a boil eventually develops a yellowish peak which is hard and stiff within 3-4 days. Itching and irritation will be experienced around a boil.

Also known as Furuncles, these are very painful, especially when they occur in areas that cannot be freely moved. A boil eventually bursts open, and the pus oozes out, thus relieving the pain.

Before moving further here is a informative infograph on the subject, if you like it then don’t forget to share.

get rid of boils infograph

Infograph on boil treatment

Where do Boils Usually Occur?

Boils are generally seen in areas that are hairy and exposed to a lot of friction and movement. These include areas on face, armpits, buttocks, neck, back and thighs. These boils do have a tendency to become chronic and develop again in the same areas.

What Causes Boils?

– The most common bacteria responsible for causing such boils is Staphylococcus Aureus. They may also be caused by other bacteria, depending on the location of the boil and the immunity of a person.

– People suffering from diabetes, cancer, and those undergoing chemotherapy are more susceptible to the formation of boils.

– Moreover, people with a compromised immunity like those suffering from HIV/ AIDS and alcoholism are also prone to developing boils.

Signs And Symptoms of Boils


  • A boil develops as a red nodule on any part of the body.
  • It gets bigger in size with the passage of time
  • When the boil gets filled with pus, it gets a yellowish white appearance.
  • The skin around the boil becomes red, painful and hard.
  • Boils do tend to irritate the skin, making it itchy.
  • A single boil may be formed or multiple boils may occur.
  • Lymph nodes get swollen with the development of a boil – which is a sign of infection.


  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Malaise
  • The boil does not rupture even after several days have passed.
  • Severe pain on and around the boil.
  • Swelling
  • Changes in appetite

19 Effective Home Remedies To Get Rid of Boils

Boils are generally caused by poor hygiene, undernourishment, and/ or malfunctioning immune system. Various lifestyle modifications and home remedies can help reduce boils and keep them under control. These are:

– Conventional Methods

1. Antimicrobial Soap:

The area around the boil must be kept clean with the use of a soap containing an antimicrobial agent like chlorhexidine.

2. Hot Compress:

hot compress

hot compress

Application of a wet, hot compress directly to the affected area will allow the boil to rupture and ease the pain. This should be done 3 times a day, for 20 minutes each until the boil ruptures.

– Dietary Changes

3. Drink Lots of Water:

Consumption of water prevents boils. It is best to have at least 8 glasses of water a day.

4. Avoid foods containing an excess quantity of white flour or white sugar.

5. Follow a nutritious diet plan that contains more quantity of fresh fruits and green- leafy vegetables, as well as seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

– Nutritional Supplements

6. Supplements containing Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin B Complex, And Vitamin C along with minerals like Zinc help in the skin healing process by boosting the immune system and fighting the inflammation.

– Herbal Measures and other Home Remedies:

7. Asparagus Tea

Drinking 8 glasses of this tea help boost the immune system.

8. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Essence

Essential Oil Bottle.Tea Tree Essence

This oil acts as an effective antiseptic against fungi and bacteria. Although an application of pure oil may irritate the inflamed skin further, mixing it with vegetable oil can be applied directly to the boil for best results. Avoid direct consumption of tea tree oil.

9. Garlic:

Garlic is a natural booster for immunity that has anti-biotic properties.

Method: Garlic can be crushed to obtain the juice which can bee directly applied to the boils. This will cause the boil to rupture.

10. Cumin Seeds:

Applying a paste of cumin seeds by grinding them and mixing with water, directly over the boils helps treat them naturally.

11. Margosa Leaves:

An integral part of the “Eastern Medicine”, margosa leaves are well known for their anti-bacterial properties and help to purify the blood.

Method: These leaves can be ground into a paste and applied over the boils. Alternatively, they can be boiled in water and that water can be applied all over the body after straining it.

This will not only treat the boils, but it will also protect the skin from developing boils in the future.

12. Turmeric:

Turmeric is a spice which is very popular for its healing properties.

Method: Turmeric can be mixed with a few drops of milk to form a paste which can be directly applied over the boils. Another option is to add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in hot milk and have it every day until the boils disappear.

13. Castor Oil

Castor Oil

Castor Oil

Applying castor oil over the affected area using a cotton ball effectively helps the boil to rupture, allowing the pus to ooze out. This helps relieve the pain

14. Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seeds have immense antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. This helps prevent the infection from spreading further.

Method: After having soaked fenugreek seeds overnight in water, grind them into a smooth paste. Apply this to the boils, twice a day, until they disappear.

15. Parsley Leaves

In order to reduce the infection and allow the boil to settle down quickly, parsley leaves can be used.

Method: Boil parsley leaves in water. Strain the solution and collect the leaves in a muslin cloth. Tie them in the cloth and place them directly on the boil.

16. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus has immense healing properties that prevent the infection from spreading further.

Method: Mix eucalyptus oil in boiling water and add slippery elm to it to form a paste. This paste must directly be applied on the boil. After half an hour, rinse it off with cold water. Repeat this process regularly until the pus finally drains out of the boil.

17. Corn Meal

A natural absorbent, cornmeal is a very potential home remedy for boils.

Method: Add some cornmeal to half a cup of boiling water and make it into a thick paste. Apply this paste directly to the boil and then cover the treated area with a clean cloth. Repeat this process for several times a day, until the pus oozes out.

– Aromatherapy

18. Chamomile, lavender, and clary sage essential oils can be used to drain out pus from the boils.

19. Echinacea and tea tree oils can also be applied to the boils to limit infection. These essential oils are known for their anti-microbial properties and also help to boost the immune system.

Over The Counter Ointments / Creams for Boils

1. Bacitracin

Bacitracin is a medicated cream which can be used for the treatment of small boils. It is easily available at most of the pharmacy stores.

For small boils, application of bacitracin after soaking in warm Epsom salts followed by application of warm compress will help bring the boil down.

Bigger boils are more resistant and these need to be evaluated by physicians. The physician will decide if the boil needs to be drained or antibiotics need to be prescribed to control the infection or both.

2. Neosporin

Neosporin is an antibiotic ointment made with a combination of drugs. It kills sensitive bacteria on the skin or in wounds.

When small boils are present, you must first wash and dry the affected area completely. Then, take a very small amount of Neosporin ointment and apply it to the affected area. Gently rub the medicine until it is distributed evenly. Use a bandage to cover the affected area.

In case of big boils, it is best to consult with a physician, who, upon proper examination will decide a course of action.

Now lets see some of the prescription drugs for boils…