Skin boils are an accumulation of bacteria on or under the skin that forms into a red, irritated lump punctuated by a white tip. The white tip is actually pus that forms as your body attempts to eject the harmful bacteria from under your skin. While boils can be caused by poor hygiene—for example, not washing thoroughly—they can also form beneath the armpit due to deodorant and also from scratching your skin while taking a bath. Although prescribed medicines can be used to treat boils, there are also some simple, natural home remedies you can try.
Hot Soaks and Drainage
Soaking your boil in hot water or using a hot pack to cover the boil helps improve circulation in the affected area, drawing more blood and antibodies to fight the bacteria. Hot water will also help ripen the boil, causing the boil to drain out more efficiently.
At the first signs of a boil, cover the boil with a hot compress—which can consist of a warm washcloth—for 30 minutes. Do this four to five times per day for three to four days or until the boil drains.
Draining the boil is important because it removes the pus—the dead cells—and keeps the boil clean so that your body can eject the bacteria effectively. It is not recommended to do this yourself, because touching your boil could spread the infection and further irritate the boil. Your doctor can safely drain the boil by using sterile instruments and a professional touch.
However, if you must do it at home, it is important to wait until a boil has become ripened or soft with pus before making an attempt to drain it. Use a sterile needle—heated beneath a flame—to break open the white head of the boil, draining the pus.
Poultices for Skin Boils
It is important to keep the area around the boil as clean as possible without irritating the boil further. Use a warm, clean cloth and antibacterial soap to clean the area every four to six hours.
One tsp. of onion or garlic juice applied directly to a boil will ripen the boil and burst it open, allowing the pus to drain on its own. Be sure to keep the area clean and do not allow the pus to reach other parts of your skin to avoid spreading the infection.
Another remedy combines 1 tsp. of milk cream, 1 tsp. of vinegar and a pinch of turmeric. Apply this poultice directly to the boil. This remedy will help the boil to ripen and split, draining the pus.
Any poultice should be applied overnight when you are unable to apply the hot compress. Upon waking, check to see if the boil has burst while you were sleeping. If so, use a washcloth, warm water and antibacterial soap to cleanse the entire area, making sure the drained pus does not spread the bacteria.