purple onionA boil, also referred to as a skin abscess or furuncle, is a type of infection on the skin. This infection usually starts in the oil gland. It may also result from the infection of a hair follicle. At the onset of the boil formation, the skin becomes reddened before giving way to a slight bump.

As the infection progresses, and pus is formed under the skin, the lump changes from red to white. Pus consists of white blood cells and bacteria. Pus formation occurs after about 5 days, creating a lump that is both tender and painful to touch.

Some of the causes of a boil include poor hygiene, chemotherapy for cancer patients, lack of a well balanced diet as well as alcoholism. In some cases, the boil is the result of friction from extremely tight (inner) clothing. Whichever the case, boils are not only painful, they also cause unsightly marks on the skin.Some of the most common locations for boils include the groin area, buttocks, armpits and the face. Note that boils are contagious.

For this reason, it helps to know some of the effective natural remedies for boils, solutions which you can make use of from the comfort of your home. Ideally, the home treatment of boils ought to begin as soon as the infection is noted. At the core of most home remedies is the softening of the boil to allow for the drainage of pus as well as the elimination of bacteria responsible for the formation of boils.

Note: The appearance of a cluster of boils is indicative of a more serious type of infection which warrants professional medical attention. This cluster is referred to as a carbuncle, and may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and a fever.

1. Warm Compress:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Mild soap, a clean washcloth, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of salt (optional).
Difficulty: Easy


Using heat is a primary natural remedy for many boils. This is because a warm compress, when firmly pressed against the skin, improves circulation of blood to the infected region. This enhances the body’s ability to ward off bacterial infection by increasing the number of immune cells to the boil area. It also helps reduce the characteristic pain that is associated with the boil. By applying heat and softening the boil, it becomes easy to burst and drain the boil once it forms the head. The addition of salt to the water used for the warm compress speeds up the healing process.


  1. First clean the area around the boil using the mild soap and warm water. This is done to get rid of any germs that may be on the surface of the skin, as well as to minimize the risk of infection.
  2. Add the teaspoon of salt to the remaining warm water to dissolve.
  3. Dip the clean washcloth in a bowl of warm water, and press it gently on the area surrounding the boil for about 15 minutes.Repeat this procedure four times daily until the boil is completely healed.

NOTE: Take the washcloth and place it in the laundry. Make sure you do not use the washcloth again before washing it as it could cause re-infection.


2. Neem Plant:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Leaves from the neem plant, warm water, pestle and mortar, and a ball of cotton wool.
Difficulty: Easy


Neem plant is one of the most diverse plants available for a host of natural remedies. This plant has long been used since ancient civilizations, thanks to its wide array of medicinal properties. Neem plant, also known as the Indian Lilac plant, contains anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, all of which come in handy in the treatment of boils among other skin conditions. The leaves of the neem plant are the most effective. Use the directions below for this natural remedy.


  1. Take a couple of fresh neem leaves and chop them to small pieces before pounding them using a pestle and mortar to create a consistent paste-like substance. Add a few drops of water to aid in this.
  2. Using a ball of cotton wool, apply the paste on the boil as well as the surrounding skin.
  3. The other alternative to using neem leaves is to boil the leaves in water for a period of time until the water is a third of the original amount. Doing this allows for the extraction of the plant’s active ingredients. Strain the leaves and transfer the water to a separate bowl. Roll a small ball of cotton wool and allow it to soak in the water. Dab the cotton wool on the boil and the area around it. Repeat this procedure twice daily.


3. Tea Tree Oil:

Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: Tea tree oil, and a cotton swab.
Difficulty: Easy


Tea tree oil is yet another diverse home remedy for a host of conditions. As far as the natural treatment of boils is concerned, the oil’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties speed up the healing process. Tea tree oil also offers relief from the discomfort in the tender region surrounding the boil.Note that it is crucial to carry out a patch test prior to using tea tree oil to avoid the possibility of an allergic reaction or skin irritation. More importantly, this oil MUST NEVER be taken internally – it is only intended for external use.


  1. Place the cotton swab in the oil and allow it to soak a bit before placing it on the boil.
  2. Let the cotton wool stay in place for about 15 minutes, and repeat the procedure thrice daily or until the boil has healed.


4. Turmeric:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of turmeric powder, a cup of warm water (which can be replaced with warm milk) OR turmeric powder, warm water, swab of cotton wool, and a bandage.
Difficulty: Easy


Turmeric is one of the most effective home remedies for the treatment of boils. The herb, best known for its culinary use, also makes for an excellent remedy. The reason for the latter is because the oils present in the powder have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce redness and inflammation in the affected region. A compound known as curcumin which is responsible for turmeric’s characteristic color, also helps in the reduction of inflammation, thus providing relief from the boil.

The advantage of using turmeric is that its medicinal properties can be obtained both internally and externally. Taking the turmeric internally allows for healing within about 4 days, while topical application causes the boil to dry out in just about 5 days. With the latter, turmeric effectively prevents the occurrence of the boil after healing.


Internal use:

  1. Add the teaspoon of turmeric powder to the cup of warm water and stir well so that the powder dissolves in the water.
  2. Drink this water thrice daily for the effective treatment of boils.
  3. In place of warm water, you can always use warm milk (preferably low fat).

External use/ Topical application:

  1. Place a heaped spoon of the turmeric powder in a quarter up of warm water.
  2. Stir the mixture, and continue adding the turmeric until you have a consistent paste-like substance.
  3. Apply the turmeric paste to the boil and the surrounding area using a swab of cotton wool.
  4. Allow the paste to stay in place before covering it with a bandage. If you do not have a bandage, a gauze can always come in handy.
  5. Note that any clothing that comes into contact with the turmeric will be stained, so you may want to choose clothes that are not brightly colored. Regular application of this turmeric paste, thrice daily, is a good way to effectively get rid of boils from the skin.
  6. There’s a twist to the topical application of turmeric, and this involves the plant’s roots. Simply soak the root of the turmeric plant in boiling water to soften it. You will then take a grater to get small gratings of the turmeric. Apply the gratings to the boil area and allow o air dry. Rinse with warm water and use thrice daily for quick healing of boils.


5. Bread And Milk Combination:

Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: A slice of fresh bread, and 1/2 glass of hot milk/water.
Difficulty: Easy


The combination of bread and milk is best known as bread poultice, and is an effective way to treat boils at home. The use of hot milk or water allows the heat to stimulate circulation of blood to the boil area, and this increases the number of white blood cells which help in fighting off the infection. The use of the bread on the other hand, allows for the reduction of inflammation, and to a certain extent, works in the same way as a compress. The cream of freshly boiled milk can be used in place of milk or water.


  1. Take a slice of bread and place it in a bowl of warm milk or water so that it is soaked.
  2. Place the bread on the boil for about 5 minutes and rinse the skin with warm water. This procedure can be repeated thrice daily to allow speedy healing of the boil.


6. Onion Slices:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A small onion, and a piece of clothe to wrap or gauze.
Difficulty: Easy


Onion is one of the best known home remedies for a wide array of infections as its antimicrobial properties make it an effective natural treatment.When chopped, an onion releases compounds that are antiseptic in nature, adding to its efficiency as a home remedy for boil treatment. Garlic, another easy-to-get home ingredient can be used in place of onion rings. The preferable form for the use of garlic is minced garlic which is then used in the same way as the onion rings.


  1. Peel the onion to reveal the fleshy layer before slicing it to get sizable rings.
  2. Place a couple of rings on the boil, and wrap with a piece of cloth or gauze. This is done to allow the heat and active compounds of the onion permeate to the boil.
  3. Repeat this procedure thrice daily, and the boil clears out after a couple of days of consistent use.


7. Eucalyptus Oil:

Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: 4 Drops of eucalyptus oil, and cotton wool.
Difficulty: Easy


Eucalyptus oil is a popular remedy for a wide variety of skin infections, and therefore works effectively in the home treatment of boils. Its antiseptic properties allow for the healing of the boil. When used on the boil consistently for a couple of days, the oil leads to the drying out and eventual healing of the boil.


  1. Place three drops of the eucalyptus oil on a ball of cotton wool and place the wool on the boil.
  2. Press gently and allow the cotton wool to stay in place for about 5 minutes. Repeat this procedure thrice daily for healing of the boil.


Other home remedies that you can use when you have a boil include castor oil which is a natural antiseptic, black seed (also known as kalonji) which is effective in the treatment of skin infections as well as nutmeg. Epsom salt is also an excellent option for this home remedy. Note that if the boil does not drain after a few days and is accompanied by a high fever (particularly in children), you need to see a medical doctor to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition.

One of the ways you can prevent the occurrence of boils is to maintain great hygiene as well as avoid tight restrictive clothing for prolonged periods of time. It also helps to carry out skin cleansing on a regular basis to avoid blockage of sweat ducts which predispose you to boil formation.

Related Articles: