Last Modified on Mar 28, 2016
As painful and frustrating as boils can be, many individuals dealing with them bypass any other remedy and head straight to the doctor for a prescription. However, boils can be treated effectively at home using a number of natural cures. A few of the remedies we have found to be most effective are colloidal silver, tea tree oil, and turmeric.
What Causes Boils?
Boils appear as round, pus-filled bumps and are actually the manifestation of skin infections. The bumps or lumps you see (and feel) on your skin are actually mechanisms for toxin release, making them extremely contagious.
The majority of cases of boils are caused by a single germ – staphylococcal bacteria. This germ penetrates the skin’s surface via tiny nicks or lesions in the skin and can even enter the body through the hair follicles. A number of factors contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to skin infection including diabetes, immune system issues, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, and exposure to chemicals or irritants.
What’s Wrong with Antibiotics?
When boils form, the skin around the boil becomes infected and is typically red, painful, hot, and swollen. As such, many individuals think the only, or at least the best, way to treat this skin issue is antibiotics. However, this treatment often only makes things worse. While antibiotics may appear to treat the issue, these medications make the boils dormant, as the infection is often resistant to this type of treatment. As such, once the antibiotic is discontinued, the infection reoccurs. Additionally, antibiotics change the natural balance of bacteria in the body, which can lead to additional issues.
How Can I Treat Boils Naturally?
Of course, being mindful of one’s hygiene is one of the most important considerations regarding treatment; however, several natural remedies can also be applied to remove infection and soothe the skin. Colloidal silver, tea tree oil, and turmeric are a few of our favorite remedies.
A spice common to Indian cuisine and mustards, this warm, orange spice is actually the best remedy for boils. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. When paired with dietary fat and black pepper, it is even more effective. You can buy turmeric in bulk at a local international grocery store, or locate bottles of organic turmeric powder and turmeric concentrate supplements called curcumin online.
2. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is considered a natural drawing agent. When used in the system, it helps pull out infection and rebalance the good bacteria in your body.
3. Tea Tree Oil
This oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. Applied to the boils, it helps calm the swelling and also draws the infection out of your skin and body.
Treating boils can be difficult; however, you can successfully treat boils at home without antibiotics. Try one of these natural options and let us know how it works for you! Continue reading below for feedback from our readers dating back over a decade who have tried a variety of natural cures to heal boils.
Remedies for Boils
The Popularity of Boils Remedies - Full List
If you decide to buy turmeric capsules, please read all the ingredients on the packaging! We bought a bottle Turmeric Curcumin at the chain GNC for $21.99 (gulp!) because so many of our readers mentioned buying capsules instead of powder in the spice section of a grocery store for $3-$4. Turns out many of those posts detailing the use of capsules from health food stores were fake. We deleted them. At any rate, when we got home and inspected the new bottle of Curcumin, we were quite dismayed to see Dicalcium Phosphate and Maltodextrin listed as "Other Ingredients".
Reported side effects of Malodextrin are bloating and headaches. The caveats and side effects of Dicalcium Phosphate are reported here: http://www.superglisodin.com/dcp.html.
Wikipedia's official opinion is the same:
"Our position appears to be contrary to the majority of manufacturers and distributors of nutritional products. our decision is based on research and years of experience watching results of dietary supplement intake on hair mineral analysis reports. The Origin of DCP Mined from deposits within the earth's crust, calcium phosphate is known by many synonyms such as "lime," "hardware lime," "calcium lime" or "dolomite." Mixed samples of the substance may have a high percentage of impurities imbedded in them which may be harmful."
03/23/2009: Dianna from Austin, Tx replies: "Check out this link. there are tainted turmeric supplements killing people in scandanavia. http://www.nutraingredients.com/Regulation/Tainted-turmeric-supplements-linked-to-Scandinavian-deaths/"
EC: Thanks so much, Dianna! Another good reason why we prefer the powder you find at an Indian grocery store for $3.00!
Here's the article Dianna is referring to:
Tainted turmeric supplements linked to Scandinavian deaths
By Shane Starling, 23-Mar-2009
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned the UK public to avoid a brand of turmeric food supplements containing a drug called nimesulide after it was linked to two deaths and several liver damage cases in Scandinavia.
The product in question, branded as Fortodol or Leppin Miradin, drew the attention of medical agencies after 11 liver-related adverse event reports in Sweden and a further five in Norway, including the deaths.
Nimesulide is not authorised as a medicine in the UK.
In response, the FSA said in a statement on Friday: "There have been no reports of liver failure or illness linked with these products in the UK. As a precautionary measure, however, these products have been voluntarily withdrawn from sale by the two main importers and recall notices will be placed in the shops selling these supplements."
Fortodol and Miradin are usually sold in the UK via the internet as food supplements, often accompanied by unsubstantiated claims to relieve arthritis, muscle pains and headaches.
The products are made by a Californian company called Donsbach, which typically exports the products to Sweden before they are shipped throughout Europe. [Bold our emphasis]
One of the Swedish cases involved a fatal liver failure which is under investigation by the Swedish Medical Products Agency. The Norwegian Medical Products Agency is conducting investigations of its own.
The FSA warning has been backed by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which, as its name suggests, governs medicines in the UK.
Nimesulide is an anti-inflammatory drug known to cause liver problems.
"Consumption of products that may contain undeclared and uncontrolled amounts of nimesulide represents a significant risk," the MHRA said.
A similar scare in Hungary was given the all-clear by the regulator there after investigations revealed a lack of nimesulide at hazardous levels."
01/11/2010: Anonymous from Springfield, Ohiyamaude replies: "It seems that the Wikipedia page for Dicalcium Phosphate no longer has any information reguarding it's reported side effects. Perhaps someone doesn't want us to know of it's potential danger? It always, and I mean always causes problems for me. No more vitamins in pill form for me thank you very much.
I would love to see someone put some credible, cited information about it's safety for human consumption on Wikipedia..and see how long it lasts up there. In fact, I urge all of you to contribute. Let's take back our right to free, open information!"
EC: Wow! Thank you for letting us know. Glad we have the old text from Wikipedia in our boils section... We should also be able to find it in internet archives like the Way Back Machine (if Wikipedia is indeed indexed) as proof that it was once there.
01/11/2010: Anon from Brazil replies: "Be VERY suspicious of Wikipedia! It's a great starting point for research, but it's already tainted.
One example: natural treatments for AIDS or anything that questions the role of HIV in AIDS. If you look at the edit history, you can see that anything that is not mainstream is immediately removed. You can also see that AIDS articles uses tactics such as name calling and personal attacks, which is typical of people that cannot hold up an open discussion free of bias, and can only defend non-sense dogma. After all, you can't attack the issue, then you have to attack the person.
Replied by Anonymous
Replied by Dave,hisaki Are Best Friends
Without a doubt, the spice turmeric is the very best remedy to take when you have boils, staph infections, or MRSA. Unfortunately, while turmeric will cure an outbreak of boils, it will NOT cure MRSA. A daily dose of turmeric will only prevent future MRSA outbreaks if you also follow a strict alkaline diet by monitoring your pH.
Take internally, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in half a glass of warm water 3x a day. Continue for several days or more if you have recurring MRSA boils. Turmeric, a traditional Ayurvedic spice of India, is anti-inflammatory and a blood purifier. You will see healing begin within a matter of hours. You do NOT have to touch the boil whatsoever or apply anything topically.
You can buy an enormous bag of turmeric at any Indian grocery store for a few dollars. The spice section of every grocery store will also carry a bottle of turmeric: $4 - $6 a bottle. A good health food store will sell turmeric capsules. The capsules are far more expensive. Is it worth the extra $? Nah, we think the cheap stuff is just fine!
You can also put an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin on the boil to help heal it quickly. If you catch it early enough with turmeric and Neosporin, the boil will not break the skin.
Please, Please, PLEASE report back after you try this remedy for a few days!
Note #1: It is best to take turmeric internally at the earliest sign of a boil (i.e., before it breaks the skin). If you do, the boil will literally disappear overnight.
Note #2: The best way to decide whether an impending blemish is a pimple or a boil is to hold a hydrogen peroxide soaked cotton ball to the blemish. If it is acne, it will turn white at the top and start to heal within about 15 minutes. If it is a boil, the peroxide won't do a thing... in fact the boil will keep growing, so take turmeric quickly!
Note #3: Turmeric is one of the best remedies for diarrhea, so be careful, it can cause constipation. Try taking acidophilus (live yogurt or liquid) to keep things balanced in your intestinal tract.
Note #4: Be prepared for your sweat to smell spicy for the first day or two.
Note #5: Turmeric seems to cause intense dehydration, especially at night , so make sure to follow your Water and Turmeric mixture with several glasses of plain water.
WARNINGS! (4) 100%Posted by Ma (Co, Usa) on 06/04/2010
[WARNING!] Please anyone that has recurring boils, go to your health professional and get checked out. I have had recurring boils and just found out I have MRSA. MRSA seems to be more and more common these days and can be harmful if left untreated.
The turmeric was an awesome temporary remedy for my boils, but when I began to have shortness of breath and chest pains, I knew I had to get checked out.
Listen to your bodies.
Replied by Elle
Posted by Luckyseattlegirl (Seattle, Wa Usa) on 01/25/2010
[WARNING!] I just wanted to make a quick comment about boils. It is very important to get your boils checked out by a doctor because now days there is a huge spread of MRSA infections that look like boils but they are really staph infections. Sometimes people think that a boil is just a boil but it is really a deadly staph infection. MRSA staph infections can kill you or if the infection just looks like a boil it can really be doing a lot of hard on the inside of your body and spread and if it gets into your blood stream (and it happens fast) it could kill you or make you deathly sick. If you get something that looks like a boil or a infected pimple get it looked at and do take the antibiotics unless you don't care if you die or get deathly sick. When I was young I got boils all the time and my mom would take care of them for me. Now I am 26 and have been in the hospital from a serious staph infection that looked just like a pimple or a boil. I spent a week in the hospital once for thinking it would just go away and I try homemade treatment. Don't try to fix yourself or a pet in these situations. Go seek professional help with these. This info may save your life. Also, never poke at a pimple or boil with anything sharp or squeeze them because it may be a staph infection and could spread inside of your body and will cause a hospitalization over night. trust me. I know lots of people that thought these things would go away after squeezing them and ended up spending the night in the hospital.
Replied by Maria
Minneapolis, Mn Usa
Replied by Citygirl27
Richardson, Tx, Usa
Posted by Kelly (Cincinnati, Ohio) on 11/11/2009
[WARNING!] I would like to warn everyone about treating boils. Prior to knowing about earthclinic I had a boil on my leg that grew to the size of a grapefruit (inner thigh). I'm not a doctor, this just my personal experience. I shudder when I read someone advising others to apply heat to a boil to make it come to a head. That's what I did and I almost died. boils for whatever reason one has one, are full of infection. applying heat pulls blood to the surface and increases the risk of spreading the infection already in the boil. I was treating myself, like many others w/o insurance. I did not have the knowledge about turmeric and other home remedies then. better to use the home remedies, have patience, and if it does not clear up get to a hospital. I hate being in debt, but I think I'd hate being dead over a boil worse. If you have a store near by that sells indian groceries buy turmeric in bulk--inexpensive. Then either get empty capsules from a healthfood store and make your own (empty caps also not expensive), or to get the turmeric into you, make golden milk and drink it:
1-2 tablespoons turmeric
2 cups milk (lactose intolerant- use rice milk)
1 tablespoon honey ( I prefer molasses blackstrap, full of b-vitamins and iron) to personal taste
heat milk to warm, not boil, and add turmeric and honey. when drinking stir cup before sip as turmeric settles to bottom and you want to get it all down w/ the liquid.
Turmeric is the key ingredient in mustard, wear old clothes or handle carefully it stains. c/o topical apps here at Earth Clinic. I wish I had known about this site, I might have been able to save myself from having emergency surgery and 2 months on my back in a nusing home on a wound pump (pumping out infection). I'm only 49 years old!
EC: Thank you Kelly, great advice!
Replied by Vadagirl
Replied by Nickie
Ruislip, Middlesex Uk
Replied by Blanche
Iberia Parish, Louisiana
Replied by Elizabeth
Replied by Gpk17042
Replied by Elizabeth
Replied by Danielle
Cincinnati, Ohio Usa
Replied by Dmalali
Replied by Beth0210
Replied by Om
Hope, Bc Canada
Replied by Beth0210
Trumbull, Connecticut, USA
Replied by Julie
From the feedback we have been receiving at Earth Clinic, it seems that many people (including doctors) are misdiagnosing their boils/staph infections/MRSA for spider bites, so please be very careful! If you don't remember being bitten by a spider (a rare occurrence), it's probably a boil or possibly a staph infection.
Replied by Busycagal
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Replied by Chris
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YEA (2) 100%Posted by Christy (Chicago, IL) on 09/04/2006
[YEA] I am cured! Acidophilus!! It worked in only a day or so. I have been taking garlic supplements, eating raw veggies, and drinking organic juices...I felt healthier, but was still getting small boils - until my friend turned me on to Acidophilus. It is a natural supplement of probiotic bacteria ... basically bacteria that eat bad bacteria. I bought it at Whole Foods. My boils are gone & no new ones have popped up!
Replied by Betty
Fort Worth , Texas
Replied by Kay
Replied by Citygirl27
Richardson, Tx, Usa
Posted by Carroll (Middletown, NJ)
[YEA] If I feel a boil coming on, I take Acidophilus, one a day. The boil never fully comes out. I take it for a couple of days, or a week if I actually have one and it goes completely away. Acidophilus works wonders for boosting the immune system.
YEA (2) 100%Posted by Phyllis (Norwood, Nc) on 12/25/2011
[YEA] A paste made of charcoal powder and water will draw the fever out of a boil very quickly. Cover the boil with the paste and then with a damp, flat cotton pad covered in plastic to keep from drying out and wetting clothing. Can tape in place.
Posted by Melissa (Houston, Texas) on 04/04/2010
[YEA] My two year old son has had recurring boils in his buttcrack ( sorry, but that's where they are :) ) - anyways, previously we have used the heated bottle method with good results. However, this time it only released a little bit of fluid with that method...it just kept getting bigger and bigger even with turmeric applied to it. He couldn't sit down and his little butt cheek was all purple. Doc's office was closed for the weekend, so I hurried to the health food store, desperate for some help and the lady suggested Activated Charcoal - it was sold in capsules.
I wet piece of gauze, opened the capsule and sprinkled a decent amount across the bandage (it needs to be damp to work, so make sure the gauze is significantly damp so it won't dry out quickly). That usually takes about 1/2 the capsule.
Then I dump the rest of the capsule into a little bowl of yogurt so he can eat it.
I have him eating the yogurt/charcoal mix 2x a day (morning and night) and changing the charcoal bandage about 3x a day (the health food store lady advised every 2 hours, but bandage changes were a little traumatic for my guy, so 3x a day it was) I think the main idea is you want a consistently damp bandage, so a fresh one ensures that.
Anyways, after 24 hours, his huge boil (biggest one he's experienced) burst - I mean, really, hours later, the stuff won't stop coming out...I will ALWAYS keep this stuff on hand now. Also said to work for bug bites, rashes, etc - pulls the poisons right out of the skin. It's not completely eradicated right now, as it just burst this evening, but I just applied more charcoal before he went to bed, so I'm certain it will be completely gone within a few days. It is amazing the improvement in just 24 hours.
side note: charcoal has no flavor, so is REALLY easy to get a toddler to eat - especially mixed in a creamy something - like pudding or yogurt. However it is BLACK and stains REALLY bad, so I literally just spoon feed it too him myself - he thinks it's cool to watch the yogurt turn black...lol...although chocolate pudding would make it easy too. Do all your bandage preparation over a papertowel or plate, or you'll have black countertops!
Replied by Helen
YEA (2) 100%Posted by Grace (London, Uk) on 05/28/2012
[YEA] Fresh aloe vera works for drying out many things, spots, cold sores and also boils. I have posted about it in the cold sores section too.
Boils are nasty things and I do find linked to diet. A good probiotic helps to minimize them as does cutting out sugars and hard trans and saturated fats as I detail below.
I am sorry so many of us suffer from these nasty things but I have managed to minimize them by being careful with my diet and when they do come up, acting fast with fresh aloe vera from the plant only.
If a boil develops I do find taking turmeric helps to bring it to a head however once it is oozing you need something to dry it out as soon as possible.
I do find to avoid boils avoid sugar, avoid eating hard fats (eggs, lots of red meat or porc, I keep cheese consumption down and try to mostly eat soft cheeses).
I do find that despite the warning on this page that you want to pop the boil as soon as you can with a sterile needle or other implement and get all the gunk out. Until you have done this it just cannot heal properly.
Once you have gotten all the yucky stuff out I find Fresh Aloe Vera straight from the plant is the most amazing thing for drying it up. The yellow ick should start to dry out and form a brown coloured scab which gets darker and drier by the day. If it is still very swollen and painful after a day it may be because not all the gunk has been extracted in which case lightly press on either side of the boil either with Q-tips or fingers wrapped in tissue paper and see whether more thick white stuff comes out, usually it does if the boil is very swollen. Keep taking the turmeric in water as suggested in other posts here.
Once the thick white stuff is all out of the boil, the boil is usually gross and oozing with that see through pus so you want to dry it up as fast as possible, avoid wetting the sore or taking long showers and baths. Holding a tissue to it for about 30 mins to stop the flow of pus will help, then you start applying aloe vera like crazy!
You should apply fresh aloe vera- the juicy part- straight from the plant every half an hour or so until the boil gradually turns into a scab and then keep on applying as often as you can. Only fresh aloe vera from the plant works, I have tried the bottle stuff and it just does not work the same. I always have an aloe vera plant in the house for these needs and have been known when travelling to bring parts of leaves with me in a ziplock bag!
The best thing is to slice a small amount off the plant and keep it in the bathroom and just keep on applying the juicy liquid as often as you can. Eventually you'll need a fresh piece as the juicy part will dry out.
I have found I can 'cure' a boil in 3 days if I am lucky, with only a minor red mark at the end that is easy to cover with concealer. Usually on the 3rd or 4th day of applying the aloe vera the scab is so tight and dry it easily falls off or peels off, do NOT pull it off if it is still stuck on too tight or you will have a scar and the sore may not be healed properly underneath yet.
If you are sure the boil is really dead and dried out and all scabbed up, another thing that helps the healing is to apply -only when you are 100% sure it is all dried up! Or else you will reactive it- some neosporin. This will help humidify the skin underneath so it heals nicely without leaving a big scar.
Aloe vera, straight from mother nature, from the fresh plant is heaven sent and I thank beautiful nature and mother earth for giving us this wonderful miracle!
Posted by Djuana (Brooklyn, NY) on 01/28/2007
[YEA] My aunt blended a small aloe vera leaf with water in a cup and I haven't had a boil since 1998. I had boils at least once a month. You can also add orange juice instead of water because it helps the bitter taste.
Posted by Laura (Rsm, Ca) on 08/30/2012
Hi, I used to get boils all the time:( under my arms and on my leg where the leg and but check meet. I'm sure it all started with shaving and sweating. I excersised every day and then I would do chores around the house before showering. Not a good idea because the bacteria would sit on my skin for hours. It is IMPERATVE to use antibacterial soap in the shower everyday!!!!!!! It's spring water the blue body wash and it doesn't dry my skin:) also NEVER squeeze a boil , it forces some of the bacteria back in! As soon as you notice a boil use HOT compresses as many times a day as you can! Use clean white washcloths and run under really hot water and apply till it gets warm then use different edge of washcloth and repeat. Keep going....... Then apply triple antibiotic ointment. Repeat as many times a day as possible! Never reuse the same washcloth or towels. Till washed(preferably in bleach! ) Remember to just let the boil drain. Resist the urge to squeeze. It's not like a pimple. I
The bacteria needs to drain. Try to shower as soon as possible after excersising or sweating and use antibacterial soap:)As soon as I made these changes I stopped getting boils!!! :) good luck Also if you get boils under your armpits, make sure until they are all gone, always wear a fresh clean shirt everyday. Change your razor frequently too. Shave around boils , never on, then get fresh razor.
YEA (1) 33% WARNING! (1) 33% SIDE EFFECT (1) 33%Posted by Judy (Beverly, MA) on 12/19/2008
[YEA] i have tried many antibiotics for my boils the only one that has helped me is sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (sulfa) 800/160 tabs.
Replied by Mike