How to deal with a boil

Written by melissa morang
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How to deal with a boil
Take showers because baths can spread the infection from boils. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A boil is a lump that forms under the skin from infected hair follicles. The lump gets larger as it becomes filled with pus; it eventually ruptures. If you have a boil, you may be tempted to pop it; don't, because it can spread the infection. Be patient and deal with your boil by taking special care of it before and after it opens.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Clean the boil carefully. Wash it twice a day with an antibacterial soap to keep it clean and reduce the risk of its spreading. Wash your hands before touching it so that you don't get any dirt or bacteria on it. Also wash your hands after touching the boil.

  2. 2

    Make a compress with a washcloth that's been run under warm water. Place it on the boil. The heat from the washcloth will help to bring the pus to the surface and rupture the boil faster. Apply the compress for 10 to 20 minutes. Do this four times a day.

  3. 3

    Put benzoyl peroxide on the boil. The peroxide will help to dry it out. You can buy any over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide. Apply it twice a day. Benzoyl peroxide provides another benefit because it's an antiseptic, so it will kill bacteria.

  4. 4

    Use a solution of saltwater when the boil has popped. Take 1 teaspoon of salt, add it to a cup of hot water and stir. Dip a washcloth into the solution and hold it on the boil until the washcloth becomes cool. The solution will help to draw out the pus.

  5. 5

    Apply an antibacterial ointment to the popped boil after washing it. Place a bandage over it to keep it clean. Wash it at least three times a day.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean washcloths and towels in hot water to remove any bacteria that might have been picked up on contact with the boil.
  • Call a doctor if the skin around the boil turns red and you develop a fever.
  • Seek medical attention if your boil becomes painful.
  • Consult your doctor if your boil starts to spread to other areas.
  • Call your doctor if you get a boil on your face.
  • Speak to your doctor if you have diabetes or anaemia and develop a boil.

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