How to Soothe a Boil

Updated March 17, 2017

Boils are a skin infection typically caused by staphylococcal bacteria. The bacteria enter the skin through nicks, cuts or hair follicles. These bacteria cause a red, tender lump (a boil) to form, and within 4 to 7 days pus begins to accumulate in the boil. Boils commonly occur on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders and buttocks. In addition to being an eyesore, boils can also be quite painful and even become infected. Fortunately, most boils heal with proper home treatment, and the pain subsides once the boil drains.

Soak the wash cloth in warm water to create a warm compress. Apply the compress to the boil to decrease the pain and help move the pus to the surface.

Leave the compress on the boil for 10 minutes. Repeat the process every 2 to 4 hours.

Soak the area in warm baths to help the boil burst and drain.

Gently wash the area in antibacterial soap after the boil bursts and drains completely. Apply medicated ointment to the area and cover it with a bandage.

Wash the area 2 to 3 times per day and apply new ointment and a bandage after each wash. Continue to place warm compresses on the area until the wound heals completely.


Thoroughly wash your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap after touching the boil. Launder all clothing, towels and linens that come into contact with the boil. Do not attempt to squeeze or lance a boil on your own. This can lead to further infection. Consult a doctor if you have any of the following: a boil on your face or spine; a boil that is extremely painful, large or accompanied by a fever; a boil that doesn't heal within two weeks; frequent boils; or a condition that affects your immune system, such as HIV.

Things You'll Need

  • Wash cloth
  • Warm water
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Ointment
  • Bandage
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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Renee Kristi has been writing since 2001 and her work now appears on various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Spelman College and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University College of Law.