Under the skin, bacteria can cause a painful, pus-filled bump if it infects the hair follicle or oil gland. This is called a boil. Because of the pressure that builds up as the boil gets larger, it can be very painful.
As a boil matures it becomes larger and the pus-filled center begins to form. This pus-filled core is known as the core. The boil eventually reaches a point where it is called the core. On top of that, a yellow-white tip forms.
Don’t pick at, squeeze, or try to open a boil in any way. This could make the skin infection worse and lead to more complications.
Your boil will likely begin to change in about a week. These scenarios are possible:
- Your boil will drain naturally and will heal in a matter of weeks.
- The pus may not drain out of your boil, so it is possible for the boil to heal. Your body will absorb the pus slowly and then break it down.
- Your boil doesn’t heal and either stays the same size or grows larger and more painful.
If it doesn’t seem to be healing on its own, you may need to see a doctor. A doctor can open your boil to let the pus drain out. It is best to not open the boil by yourself.
A medical professional should be able to open a boil’s core. This will ensure that it is removed safely and properly.
You will have to undergo the procedure in a safe environment. Follow these steps to have your doctor perform incisions and drainage.
- The doctor will first treat the area surrounding the boil with an antiseptic.
- Before they make a cut, they’ll typically numb the area around the boil as well.
- Then they’ll open the boil by making a small cut with a sharp instrument, such as a needle, lancet, or scalpel. This technique is also known by the name lancing.
- They’ll drain the pus through the surgical incision. Sometimes, additional incisions are necessary.
- They’ll clean the cavity by irrigating, or flushing, it with sterile saline solution.
- They’ll dress and bandage the area.
If your boil is very deep and doesn’t completely drain right away, the doctor may pack the cavity with sterile gauze to absorb the leftover pus.
If you have any of the following conditions, the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic, such as sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim), following your procedure:
- Many boils
- A fever
- Infected skin
For boils on the skin, antibiotics are often prescribed. These boils are more likely than others to lead to infection.
Your boils might not be cleared up by antibiotics. Boils are a barrier to your blood supply that makes it difficult for antibiotics to reach the boils.
Again, don’t attempt to pop the boil yourself. There is too much risk of the infection spreading into your bloodstream. These home remedies are safe.
- For 20 minutes, place a wet, warm cloth on the boil, three to four times daily. This will bring the boil to a boil. After about a week, the boil might open by itself. If it doesn’t, contact a doctor for possible incision and drainage in an office.
- If you notice a boil, wash it gently and apply sterile bandages to the affected area. This will stop the infection spreading. If pus from your boil gets on your washcloths or towels, don’t reuse them until they’ve been laundered. Always wash your hands well.
- Continue to use the warm cloths for drainage in the open wound over the next few days. Gently wash the affected area, then apply a bandage every two days or when pus oozes.
- Once the boil is fully drained, clean and bandage the area daily until it’s healed.
Be patient with this whole process. Don’t try to squeeze the pus from the boil. Let it drain naturally.
Many people’s first instinct is to want to open and drain their boil at home.
Never attempt to cut open or squeeze open a boiling boil. The boil will eventually open naturally over time. You can drain the boil using hot compresses, sanitary techniques and proper bandaging.
If you have the following symptoms, however, you should see a doctor.
- your boil doesn’t naturally resolve
- It gets bigger
- It gets worse
- you develop a fever