Boils are packets of infection that begin deep inside the skin, usually around a hair follicle. Boils are generally found on the face, neck and in sweaty and high friction areas. Lancing a boil yourself is not recommended as it can spread infection.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Soap and water
- Dry bandage or gauze with medical tape
Keep the area around the boil clean. You might want to use a mild astringent like Witch Hazel to help bring the boil to a head. Apply the Witch Hazel to a cotton ball and hold on the boil for several minutes, several times a day. Do not use Witch Hazel if the boil is near broken skin or a sensitive area.
Boils usually take 4 to 7 days to form a head. The head will fill with white or yellow pus when it is ready to drain. Do not lance the boil before it comes to a head or it will do no good.
Once the boil has come to head, you can lance it. Before you begin, clean your work area thoroughly and set out the alcohol, needle and bandage. Wash your hands and the boil with soap and water. Clean the area again with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Also sterilize the needle you are going to use to puncture the boil with alcohol.
Brace yourself, because lancing a boil hurts.
Very carefully insert the tip of the needle into the center of the pus in the head of the boil. You shouldn't have to go very deep with the needle at all.
Gently squeeze the boil to force out all the infection. Immediately clean the boil of the pus using a soapy wash cloth or gauze pad. Wash your hands and the area around the boil very well so that you do not spread the infection. Let the area dry and cover with a dry bandage or gauze pad secured with medical tape.
The boil might continue to ooze for a day or so. Wash the area and change the bandage often.
Tips and warnings
- See your physician immediately if at any time the area around the boil becomes inflamed or red streaks start to radiate out from the boil.
- Contact your physician if the area around the lanced boil does not start to dry up, shrink or become less sensitive.
- Don't try to lance a boil near genitalia at home. The risk of infection far outweighs the cost of a doctor visit.