Boils may heal on their own after a period of itching and mild pain. More often, they increase in discomfort as pus collects.
Boils usually must open and drain before they will heal. This usually occurs in less than 2 weeks.
Deep or large boils may need to be drained with surgery by a health care provider. Treatment by a health care provider is needed if:
Careful hygiene is important:
Antibacterial soaps and antibiotics placed on the skin are of little help once a boil has formed. Antibiotics taken by mouth or given as a shot may help a more severe infection or if the boil returns.
Some people have repeated abscesses and are unable to prevent them.
Boils can be very painful if they occur in areas like the ear canal or nose. A health care provider should treat boils of the nose.
Boils that form close together may expand and join, causing a condition called carbunculosis.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if boils:
Habif TM. Bacterial infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 9.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885