As far as the ‘eew’ factor goes, boils are pretty high on the list. But what is a boil? It’s a kind of a mega pimple, where pus collects under the skin, usually centred around a hair follicle. Boils are more painful and take longer to heal than normal pimples. Luckily, we’ve got some tricks that can help speed the healing process along!
How to pop a boil
You don’t! Popping a boil is something you should avoid because this can lead to infection and scarring. If you’re wondering how to drain a boil of all that icky pus, rather see a doctor or dermatologist who can do the job in a professional, sanitary manner.
There are however things you can do at home to help reduce swelling, encourage a boil to drain itself, and promote healing.
Treating a boil at home
Please note that some of the following home remedies are not scientifically proven, however anecdotal evidence suggests that they do work. For any large and painful boil or abscess that is very slow to heal, always consult your doctor.
A warm compress
Soak a facecloth in hot water, and firmly apply heat to the boil 4 times a day for 15 minutes. The heat helps to break down the pus so that the boil can drain more easily.
Espsom salts, or Magnesium Sulphate, dissolved into warm water is said to help extract and dry out the pus of a boil. Use a warm compress as above, but add Epsom salts to the water.
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which may help to break down bacteria and provide relief for painful infected boils. While no scientific studies have been done, this oil has been used as a natural healing ointment for centuries.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that may help with infected boils. There’s not enough curcumin in the Turmeric found in your spice rack though – instead, apply a few drops of Turmeric essential oil to your skin.
Onion or garlic
Both onions and garlic have a strong taste and smell because they contain allicin – a natural anti-biotic. Cut a thick slice of onion or garlic, apply it to the boil, and wrap a bandage to hold it in place. Leave the bandage on for an hour at a time, and repeat twice a day.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is well known as a fantastic natural antiseptic.
Don’t use it on its own – it is very strong and must be diluted with a carrier oil like castor oil. Apply a drop of diluted tea tree oil twice a day to help heal a boil faster.
There you have it – 6 ways to get rid of a boil at home. If you’re prone to boils, you can prevent outbreaks from being too severe by using anti-bacterial soap, not sharing razors, towels and makeup, and resisting the urge to squeeze and pick.
Always see a doctor if a boil refuses to heal, you have multiple outbreaks over a few months, you also have a fever, or if you have diabetes.