Home remedies and natural treatments, such as applying a warm compress or certain essential oils to a boil, can help a person get rid of the boil. However, research into some natural treatments is limited.

A boil is a bacterial skin infection that forms in hair follicles and oil glands. Boils begin as painful, inflamed bumps that develop a pus-filled head as they progress.

Healthcare professionals do not recommend attempting to open or drain a boil at home. However, there are several relatively simple ways to encourage this process naturally and relieve symptoms.

This article explains some methods for relieving boils at home, including potential complications of boils and tips for preventing them.

A person from behind feeling a boil on the side of their neck.-1Share on Pinterest
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During the early stages of a boil, a doctor may recommend using a warm compress, which can include an antiseptic ointment, to speed up the natural drainage process.

This method helps draw pus and blood to the skin’s surface. With regular application of a warm compress, the boil may eventually burst open and drain fully or will be quickly ready for a doctor to cut open and drain.

To create and apply a warm compress to a boil, use the following steps:

  1. Soak a clean washcloth or towel in hot water.
  2. Wring most of the water out of the cloth and squeeze it into a compress.
  3. If a doctor approves, apply an antiseptic solution to the compress.
  4. Apply the warm compress to the boil for 10 minutes. People can use a bandage to secure the compress.
  5. Repeat this process four times daily or until the boil opens.

Doctors do not typically prescribe antibiotics, but may recommend them for someone with a fever or a weakened immune system.

It is essential never to force a boil to burst or open at home. While painful, a boil is the body’s way of defending itself from a much more serious risk.

What to do if a boil bursts

If a boil bursts, the person should keep it clean and dry to encourage safe healing. The following steps can help to prevent infection and promote healing:

  • clean the area around the boil with antibacterial soap
  • cover the area with a sterile bandage or gauze
  • wash the hands thoroughly before and after touching the boil or replacing any dressing
  • take pain relief medication if necessary, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • wash clothing regularly
  • wash bedding with hot water at least once a week
  • avoid touching or rubbing the boil as it heals

There is limited research into the safety and effectiveness of natural remedies for boils. However, some people may find that home remedies help to encourage drainage or healing.

For example, an older 2014 study found that a community in Northern India uses at least 32 individual plant species to treat boils.

Compounds that improve blood flow, boost the immune system, or have antibacterial properties may benefit the recovery process.

However, people should speak with a doctor before using home remedies to ensure they remain safe and are not introducing bacteria into an open sore.

The following natural home remedies may help a person with boils:

  • Honey: A 2021 review suggests honey may be effective at treating boils and other wounds, such as ulcers and scratches.
  • Raw onion: Onions have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may benefit people with conditions such as boils.
  • Fresh garlic: Garlic may have some benefits as an antibacterial agent.
  • Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that may offer some benefits for dermatological conditions.
  • Turmeric: A 2023 review highlights research suggesting topical application of turmeric may benefit certain skin conditions, including boils.
  • Castor oil: Castor oil may have antimicrobial properties, although it is more common as a stimulative laxative.
  • Tridax daisy: A 2019 study suggests this plant may have some benefits as a bacterial infection treatment. It is available as an essential oil.
  • Eucalyptus: A 2017 review highlights research suggesting that eucalyptus essential oil may benefit boils and other skin conditions.
  • Neem oil: Some people may use neem essential oil or ground leaves as a paste for dermatological conditions, such as pustules, ulcers, or acne.
  • Caraway essential oil: Caraway essential oil may show some benefits for boils, acne, and infected wounds.

It is worth noting that most research into the above home remedies is limited or does not focus specifically on boils. People should always follow a healthcare professional’s advice before applying home remedies.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of getting boils, but there is no way to prevent the risk of developing them entirely. Tips for preventing boils include:

  • regularly washing the skin with a mild soap or antibacterial rinse
  • maintaining or achieving a moderate weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly
  • avoid sharing towels, clothing, or bedding with anyone who currently has a boil

A person should seek medical attention for large or complicated boils.

If a boil worsens after draining or does not improve on its own with basic home care after a week or more, a doctor should rule out infection.

It is possible for boils to heal on their own with home care and good hygiene. However, some people may experience complications, such as:

  • carbuncles or boils that form or reform in clusters
  • infection in the deeper layers of the skin
  • infection of hair follicles usually caused by Staphylococcus bacteria
  • scarring
  • sepsis

People should seek an urgent doctor’s appointment if they experience the following symptoms after a boil:

  • hot, painful, swollen skin around the boil
  • feeling hot
  • shivers

Applying a warm compress to a boil can encourage draining and speed up the healing process. People can make a compress with a cloth and warm water and apply it four times a day.

A person should never attempt to burst a boil at home for any reason, as this may lead to serious health complications.

Some other natural remedies may relieve the symptoms of boils, but research into their safety and efficacy is limited. People should speak with a doctor before trying home remedies.