Boils are pus-filled bumps that develop underneath the skin when bacteria clog hair follicles, causing an infection and inflammation. They can appear as a single bump or as a cluster of bumps.

Boils can be painful and large, and they can sometimes rupture. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body.

Different therapies can treat a boil, including oral antibiotics and pain medication. In addition, natural therapies like aloe vera may improve this skin condition.

Here’s what you need to know about using aloe vera for the treatment of boils.

Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant that grows in hot, dry climates. These plants are easy to care for and can be either indoor or outdoor plants. In addition to being a popular, low-maintenance houseplant, the aloe inside the plant is sometimes used for skin health.

Aloe is an ingredient in many skin care products such as shaving creams, facial cleansers, and moisturizers. It contains humectants, a moisturizing agent that helps skin retain moisture.

A plant’s aloe also contains nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin E, which have anti-aging benefits. Topical use of aloe can stimulate collagen production and possibly reduce fine lines.

According to research from 2019, aloe vera also has wound-healing benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Given its ability to protect and heal the skin, it’s sometimes used to treat sunburns, trauma, and even boils.

Bacteria on the skin, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can cause skin boils. These infections start in the hair follicles, and skin often becomes painful, tender, and red as the boil grows. Topical application of aloe vera gel has been shown to have a positive effect on this condition.

As an anti-inflammatory, the aloe helps lessen pain. And as an antibacterial and antiseptic, it helps protect the skin from further infection. It can also speed up the healing process.

Aloe vera gel also includes glycoproteins (molecules that can reduce inflammation and assist with wound healing), and polysaccharides, which stimulate skin growth.

Boils typically improve or heal on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. Aloe vera gel, however, might accelerate this healing process. The aloe is well-tolerated on skin, so there’s a low risk of irritation.

To use aloe for boils, cut the leaf of an aloe vera plant and scoop out the gel. Cleanse the lesion with warm water and soap, and thoroughly dry. Apply and rub the aloe over the boil. Don’t apply it to an open wound or a ruptured boil.

Research suggests applying aloe gel topically to skin twice daily for acne.

Aloe vera can be taken orally (capsule, juice, etc.) for certain conditions like diabetes and hepatitis. For skin care, though, you need to apply it topically.

Side effects and adverse reactions might occur after topical use. Signs of skin irritation include burning, itching, and hives. Stop using the aloe if you develop a reaction or irritation.

Aloe vera is also safe for treating boils and minor skin irritation in children.

Along with topical aloe vera, you can also take other measures to speed the healing process. For example, you can apply a warm, moist compress to your skin lesion several times a day. This can reduce inflammation and help the boil drain naturally on its own.

Also, cleanse the lesion daily to prevent infection, and apply clean bandages. Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after touching a boil.

It’s important that you don’t pick or burst a boil. This can cause the infection to spread to other parts of your body, and result in permanent scarring.

If a boil doesn’t show signs of improvement after a week of home treatment, or if symptoms worsen (you develop a fever or experience severe discomfort), see your doctor. Your doctor can suggest other therapies to improve symptoms. These might include an antibiotic to fight the infection or prescription pain medication.

Incision and drainage is not a recommended first-line treatment for skin boils. Although it can provide fast relief, there’s the risk of complications like an infection from open wound healing, scar tissue, and recurrence.

Your doctor might suggest excision, or complete removal of the boil, instead. The wound is stitched or sewn closed after this procedure, lowering the risk of infection.

Skin boils are sometimes minor and heal on their own, but some boils become large in size and painful. Complications can also occur, like the infection spreading to other parts of the body.

Applying aloe from the aloe vera plant, however, might keep the infection under control and help speed up the healing process.