How to Stop Recurring Boils

Three Methods:Understanding BoilsTreating Boils at HomePreventing Boils

Boils are common afflictions that happen to many people every day. A boil is an infection of the skin that fills with pus. They manifest as red bumps and can be very painful. These issues can reoccur, which can be annoying and uncomfortable. Luckily, there are things you can do to help you stop recurring boils.

Method 1
Understanding Boils

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    Notice the symptoms of boils. Boils are bump-like manifestations on the skin. When it is advanced, a boil can disappear on its own or increase in size. When they increase in size they become abscesses and are of significant concern, both medically and cosmetically. If it increases in size, it will eventually form a head, which means that underneath the top surface, the skin becomes filled with pus. It can break open, draining and oozing pus, which is a mixture of blood cells, bacteria and fluids. The symptoms include[1]:
    • A firm, typically red bump on the skin
    • Tenderness at the sight of the bump, which is sometimes extreme
    • Swelling
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    Recognize the kind of boils. When you notice the symptoms of a boil, you may need to figure out which boil you have. A boil is a common form of a medical condition called an abscess which is a collection of pus underneath the dermis (the layer of skin under the epidermis). There are a number of different types of boils that may appear. These include:
    • Furuncles, which occur in hair follicles. They are associated with a fever and chills and can become chronic.
    • Carbuncles, which are generally larger than furuncles and can also become chronic. They can also form hardened lumps under the skin.
    • Cystic acne, which is both a type of acne and a type of boil associated with more severe forms of acne.
    • Hidradenitis suppurativa, which is an inflammatory condition of the sweat glands. It occurs when there are multiple boils cropping up under the arms and along the groin area. It is also resistant to antibiotics and may require surgery to remove the affected sweat glands.
    • Pilonidal cysts, which result from inflamed hair follicles at the top of the buttock crease. Pilonidal cysts are uncommon, can occur after long periods of sitting, and occurs more in men than women.[2]
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    Know the causes and placement of boils. There are multiple things that can cause boils. They are the result of an infection from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus most commonly, though other fungi and bacteria can be found in the boils. Boils can be found anywhere on the body; however, they are most commonly found on the face, armpit, neck, inner thighs, and buttocks.[3]
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    Learn the risk factors. Boils can happen to anyone at any time. The bacteria that causes boils is very common on nearly everyone’s skin, so it is possible for almost anyone to get it from that. There are also some other factors that can increase your risk. These include:
    • Coming into close contact with someone close who has a boil or a Staph infection. If you are around someone with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), take extra precautions, as this can colonize on your body and increase your risk of serious infection.
    • Diabetes, which can suppress the immune system and lead to more infections. Due to the increase in blood sugar, microbes are more likely to colonize and infect a person with diabetes. If you have a boil and are diabetic, seek out medical attention immediately.
    • Any condition resulting in a suppressed immune system, such as HIV or cancer.
    • Other skin conditions that weaken the barrier capabilities of the skin, such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, or other condition in which the skin is dried or broken.[4]
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    Treat the boils medically. Boils diagnosed in most cases by their appearance. There are a few different ways to treat them. Once they are diagnosed by your doctor, you can have them lanced, which is when the doctor pokes a hole in the head, or pus-filled head, of the boil and drains the pus.
    • In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics, which can be topical or oral. This is usually reserved for large boils or those that last longer than two or three weeks.
    • If the boils are on your face or spine, are particularly painful, and/or are associated with a fever, more treatment may be necessary. [5]
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    Seek medical care. In rare occasions, the infection from a boil can spread, causing infections in the brain, heart, bones, blood, and spinal cord. Because of this, any suspected boils should not be ignored, especially if they are recurring. See your doctor if any remedies or treatments recommended do not help within two weeks. Also call your doctor if:[6]
    • You are running a fever
    • The boil is very painful or limits movement or sitting
    • The boil is on your face
    • You feel over-fatigued
    • You see reddish streaks coming from the boil
    • It gets worse or another boil develops

Method 2
Treating Boils at Home

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    Cover your boil. Before examining or caring for your boil, always wash your hands extremely well. Next, cover the boil with a bandage or with some gauze. This can help protect the skin from outside irritants or irritation. If a bandage would just fall off or keep coming off due to the location of the bandage, such as the inner thigh, you can also leave the boil uncovered.
    • When dealing with boils, never try to squeeze it. You should also never use any sharp instrument like a needle or pin to cut or pop the boil. This increases the risk of the spread of infection.[7]
    • If the boil comes to a head and drains on its own, gently wipe away the pus that oozes out with a tissue. Then cover the wound with a bandage so it can heal.
    • If the boil does not drain on its own and is getting bigger, then you need to see a doctor. She may be able drain the boil for your in a sterile office setting.
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    Use a warm compress. To help reduce recurring boils, try a warm compress. Soak a small, clean towel or washcloth in very warm water. Make sure it isn't too hot. Wring out the excess water and apply it directly to your boil. Use a warm compress as often as you can, but always use a clean towel every time. This limits the possibility of contamination.
    • You should always wash any towels and clothing that come into contact with your boil in very hot, sudsy water in order to destroy the bacteria.[8]
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    Apply tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an herbal treatment that can be used to treat a recurring boil because it is an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Use a cotton ball or a swab to apply the tea tree oil directly to the skin of the boil. Repeat this at least two to three times a day.[9]
    • It may also be useful for MRSA, an antibacterial resistant infection, as well as other antibiotic-resistant infections.[10] It is also an anti-inflammatory agent.[11]
    • Tea tree oil should only be used topically, or on the skin.
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    Try cumin. Cumin can be used to treat a boil in either its powder or essential oil form. Cumin has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Mix ½ teaspoon of powdered cumin with one to two tablespoons of castor oil to make a paste. Apply this mixture directly to the boil, then cover it with a gauze bandage. Replace the bandage and paste every 12 hours.
    • If you use the essential oil, apply the essential oil directly to the boil with a cotton ball or cotton swab.[12]
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    Use neem oil. Neem oil is derived from the Indian lilac tree. It is known for its antiseptic qualities for over 4,000 years and is effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.[13] To help combat recurring boils, apply the oil directly on the boil with a cotton ball or swab. Repeat this every 12 hours.
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    Try eucalyptus oil. Another essential oil that is helpful for boils is eucalyptus oil because of its antibacterial properties. To help with the recurring boils, apply it to the boil directly with a cotton swab or ball every 12 hours.
    • Eucalyptus oil is also helpful against MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections.[14][15]
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    Make a turmeric paste. Turmeric, which is the main ingredient in curries, has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.[16] Turmeric can be used as a powder or as an essential oil. To make a turmeric paste, mix ½ teaspoon of dry turmeric powder with one to two tablespoons of castor oil to make a paste. Apply this paste directly on the boil with clean hands or a cotton ball. Then cover the paste covered boil with a gauze bandage. Replace the bandage and paste every 12 hours.
    • For use of the essential oil, apply the oil directly to the boil with a cotton ball or swab.
    • Using turmeric may stain the skin orange, which means it may be most useful for areas that are not visible by the naked eye.

Method 3
Preventing Boils

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    Keep at-risk areas dry. Boils are most commonly found on the inner thighs, near the groin, under your arms, and on your buttocks at the site of a hair follicle. These areas are commonly damp and the bacteria that causes boils can grow there.[17] Keep these areas as dry as possible. This means drying them with a cotton towel as much as possible after a bath and when you are sweaty.
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    Wear the right clothing. Make sure you wear the right kind of clothing to stay as dry as possible. This includes breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, seersucker, and lyocell. You should also wear loose-fitting clothing, which allows your skin to breath and prevents irritation in at risk areas.
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    Treat cuts properly. Boils can occur at the sights of cuts where you may have an infection. Whenever you get a cut, treat it right away with over-the-counter antiseptics. Try a triple-strength antibiotic and cover the injury with a bandaid. You can also try witch hazel, which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.[18]
    • To use witch hazel, pour some onto a clean gauze pad and apply it to the cut. Let the witch hazel soak into the boil for about a minute and then pat it dry.
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    Combine methods. If you think a boil looks like it's coming up, take a warm compress and apply it to the area where the boil is beginning. Then, try a home remedy (turmeric paste, tea tree oil, etc.) to treat boils and apply it to the skin as directed. Apply this combination every 12 hours until you are certain there is no swelling or tenderness.
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    Seek medical attention. If you have tried many different options and you still have recurring boils, see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you have tried home treatments and they don’t help within two weeks, or if you have diabetes or another condition that causes your immune system to be suppressed. At this point, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist. You may have some other condition which makes you more susceptible to boils.
    • If you don't have a dermatologist, ask you doctor for a referral.


  • Always talk to your doctor if you are using home treatments with a child. Also make sure that the child does not ingest any of these herbs.
  • To check herb sensitivity on the skin, first test a small area of skin to make sure there are no allergies to the herb.
  • The earlier you start treatment, the less severe the boils will be.
  • Pilonidal cysts and hidradenitis suppurativa may have to be surgically treated.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Skin Conditions