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A large, painful, pimple-like infection of a hair follicle.

Also called


Affected areas

Common locations are the face, neck, buttocks, groin and armpits.


  • A small portion of the skin initially becomes tender, red and swollen before forming a painful bump and then developing a white or yellow head
  • Eventually, even without intervention, the boil ruptures and allows the pus to drain away. Boils can range in severity and the factors below should be taken into consideration
  • Clusters of boils known as carbuncles have multiple heads
  • A more serious infection can result if the infection is able to penetrate into deeper tissues, and in some cases can be life-threatening
  • If boils are severe or frequent it is advisable to seek medical advice immediately and especially when a boil is located near the eyes or nose as it is important to prevent the infection spreading to the brain
  • A scar may remain after the tissue has healed


The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which is normally present on our skin and in many cases in our nostrils, causes the infection known as a boil. Although generally harmless, ‘golden staph’, as it is known, can sometimes infect the skin.

Risk factors for developing boils include:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Poor nutritional status and as a consequence, depleted immunity
  • Broken skin from a variety of causes including scrapes and scratches, or skin problems such as eczema
  • Diabetes, in particular when the condition is poorly controlled

Diet and lifestyle

Learning to make a hot compress, a traditional method of relieving the pain of boils, is essential and this can be used to draw out pus, fight infection and encourage healing:
  • Heat water to boiling for 10-15 minutes to make sure it is sterile, and then cool until no longer hot enough to burn but still able to apply heat to the boil
  • Soak cotton pads or sterile fabric in the water and then place the hot compress over the boil until it cools down
  • Repeat the process for ten minutes at a time, three times per day, until the boil comes to a head and bursts
  • It is important to discard the used compresses thoughtfully as they have been in contact with infectious matter
  • Once your hot compress is completed, cover the burst boil with a Band-Aid to prevent further infection from occurring

Here are some other lifestyle and dietary factors will help deter the condition and may lessen the severity of the infection:

  • Good hygiene is essential. Wash your hands with warm water and antiseptic soap frequently and avoid touching the boil at all times
  • It's advisable to bathe with antiseptic soap, and make sure to use fresh towels every time you dry the area of the boil. Change your bedding as frequently as possible too
  • Apply tea tree oil, this has documented antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, and may help to fight infection
  • Never burst or lance a boil yourself, doing so may spread the infection. A boil should normally burst on its own when it is ready to do so. See your doctor if it doesn't burst within a few days of its arrival; the boil may need to be lanced and drained by a healthcare professional

Important notes

See your doctor if your boils are recurring. This may be a symptom of diabetes or, if already with the condition, may indicate that your blood sugar level is not in control.

Work with your healthcare professional to manage these issues as this may help to reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

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Dear John,
Thank you for your query. As a boil is considered an infection of a hair follicle or oil gland, I would suggest your son wash the infected area several times a day and possibly swab with an antiseptic (eg. diluted tea tree oil) to prevent further infection.
Nutritionally, Vitamins A, C, E and the mineral Zinc are recommended for proper wound healing, as well as a healthy immune response. Vit C can be found in leafy green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits and avocados, nuts and seeds provide great sources of A and E. I would suggest incorporating more of these into his diet along with an adequate intake of water (2 litres daily).
Please feel free to contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at if you require any further assistance.
Kind regards,
Michelle (Blackmores Naturopath)
My 15 year old son has what looks like a boil on his chin. He has just squeezed it and pulled the white cor out of it so now i will put a band aid over it for the time being.
Anonymous 06 Jan 2014
Hi Marion, Blackmores' website provides an A-Z of all products, along health topics and community groups, we trust there are many opportunities to learn more about our products. I trust that this information will be helpful for your needs. You can always talk to a Blackmores naturopath on 1800 803 760 for any individual needs. All the best, Jennifer (Blackmores Naturopath)
Anonymous 24 Dec 2013
Hi Shequille,
Thank you for your post.
I’m sorry to hear that you have a large boil – they can be quite painful!
I would recommend following as many of the suggestions in the article above – particularly focus on the hygiene tips. You may find supporting the immune system through the herbs and nutrients mentioned is helpful, along with the use of hot compresses. You may also benefit from covering your boil with a non-stick dressing.
However – if following these tips is not helpful, or if you have any underlying health conditions, or recurrent or infected boils you do need to see your healthcare professional for treatment.
I hope this is helpful Shequille. Please feel free to contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at if you require any further assistance.
Kind regards,
Charmaine (Blackmores Naturopath)
Charmaine 18 Nov 2013
Hi how can you get rid of boils without getting medical help as i have no money to go see a doctor my boil is really big
Anonymous 18 Nov 2013

My name is Surya. I've severe painful boils mostly on my thighs. If one boil gets cured the other would appear somewhere on legs.

Is this a severe problem? Please let me know what can I do to avoid those.

Anonymous 08 Oct 2013
Hi Meena,
Have you tried the remedies mentioned above? It is important to make sure your family member has good personal hygiene, and a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Antimicrobial herbs and topical ointments could be of use in treating the boils and boosting the immune system to reduce the frequency and severity. Meena please feel free to call the Blackmores Advisory line, 1800 803 760 if you would like more personal advice. Kind regards, Leanne (a Blackmores naturopath)