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Boils are red, pus-filled bumps that form under the skin.

They’re often painful and grow larger until they’re drained. They can grow to the size of a baseball. Larger boils are also known as skin abscesses.

The area surrounding the skin can be red and painful too.

Don’t pick at or squeeze a boil. If it’s not drained properly by a doctor, it could infect nearby areas or push the infection deeper into the skin, causing more boils.

If drainage is needed, your doctor will make a small incision on the boil and use sterile gauze to absorb and remove additional pus. This should only be done carefully and in a sterile environment.

It’s possible to treat many boils in the comfort of your own home with alternative remedies.

Boils most commonly appear on the:

Bacteria that infect and then inflame hair follicles cause boils. Most boils are the result of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

Other possible causes include ingrown hairs and clogged sweat glands.

Risk factors that may increase your chances of developing boils include:

  • improper hygiene
  • shaving
  • having small cuts on the skin
  • having certain skin conditions, such as acne or eczema
  • having an immune disorder, which makes you more vulnerable to bacterial infections
  • having close contact with someone who’s had boils, like sharing razors or towels

1. Applying heat

Heat helps increase circulation in an area, bringing more white blood cells and antibodies to the area to fight the infection. Applying heat to a boil is one of the best home remedies you can try.

Apply a warm compress to the area for 20 minutes at a time. Do this three or four times a day, every day, until the boil is gone.

2. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. These properties may help treat the bacterial infection causing the boil.

Tea tree oil shouldn’t be applied directly to the skin, as it can have a burning effect. Instead, mix five drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of coconut or olive oil.

Put the diluted tea tree oil on a cotton swab and apply it to the boil two or three times per day. Do this daily until the boil is completely gone.

Shop for tea tree essential oil online.

3. Turmeric powder

Turmeric powder has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may help heal a boil and get rid of it quickly.

You can choose to ingest turmeric powder, use it topically to treat boils, or both.

To ingest it, boil a teaspoon of turmeric powder in water or milk, then let cool. Drink the mixture three times daily.

To use it topically, mix turmeric with water, ginger, or both to make a paste. Apply the paste to the boil at least twice a day.

Shop for turmeric powder online.

4. Epsom salt

Epsom salt isn’t just a relaxing remedy. It may help treat boils, too. The salt may help dry out the pus, causing the boil to drain.

Dissolve Epsom salt in warm water and soak a compress in it. Apply the compress to the area for 20 minutes at a time. Do this at least three times daily until the boil is gone.

Shop for Epsom salt online.

5. Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment

You can’t go wrong with an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, many of which are both fast-acting and soothing.

Since many people keep a tube of Neosporin in their medicine cabinet, you might not even have to look far to get it. It may also help keep the infection from spreading.

Apply the antibiotic ointment to the boil at least twice a day until the boil is gone.

Shop for antibiotic ointment.

6. Castor oil

Castor oil contains a compound called ricinoleic acid, which is a natural but potent anti-inflammatory. This, combined with its powerful antibacterial properties, makes castor oil a great natural treatment to try for boils.

Apply a small amount of castor oil directly to the boil at least three times a day until the boil is gone.

Shop for castor oil online.

7. Neem oil

Neem oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties that can help treat skin infections, including boils. It’s also known as Indian lilac.

To treat boils with neem oil, apply the oil directly to the boil three to four times a day. Make sure you wash your hands before and after application.

Shop for neem oil online.

Sometimes home remedies won’t cut it for stubborn boils. Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • The boil keeps getting larger despite home treatment.
  • The boil hasn’t cleared up or diminished after a week of home treatment.
  • The boil is as large as a pingpong ball.
  • The skin surrounding the boil is bright red or has red streaks extending from it.
  • The boil is extremely painful.
  • There are other lumps near the boil.
  • You have recurring boils over several months.
  • You also have diabetes.

Home remedies can be plenty effective for small boils. Make sure to use them as needed to see best results.

If you haven’t seen results after 5 to 7 days — or if the boil has gotten larger, more painful, or started to show signs of infection — make an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor may drain the boil by lancing it and prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. To determine the right antibiotic for you, they might test a sample of pus from the boil.

Read this article in Spanish.