A single boil can be treated at home. To prevent complications, one should start treatment at the first signs of symptoms. In general common sense home remedies will help alleviate the boil.
Warm compress: Apply a warm compress on the boil for about 20 minutes 2-4 times a day and over the next few days, the boil will resolve. The heat increases the blood circulation and helps one fight off the infection. Warm compress also diminish the pain.
Clean: Keep the area clean. Avoid any creams or lotions on the boil. Avoid any dressing and keep the boil exposed to air. Occluding the boil with dressings only creates more humidity and heat which encourages bacterial growth.
Home piercing: At home, one should avoid sticking pins or needles in the boil Home made piercing equipment are not sterile and can lead to worsening of the infection. Piercing is best done by a physician.
Topical antibiotics: One can apply a topical antibiotic like polysporin for several days. These rarely help in chronic cases.
Lancing: Sometimes the boil may be large and painful. In such cases lacing by a health care professional is the best treatment. Lancing is a small procedure and can be done in an office. The boil is pierced with a sharp bade and provides immediate relief. After lancing, the boil will continue to drain for a few days and you have to apply dressings to cover and soak up the pus. Washing the area with water is adequate. One does not need to use any fancy antibiotic or antiseptics once the boil has been lanced.
When there are multiple boils or pockets of pus, all these must be opened up and this is best done in an operating room.
Antibiotics: In some individuals with multiple boils and other medical disorders like diabetes, antibiotics may be required. Antibiotics do not work if the boils are chronic and hard. The antibiotics generally fail to enter the boil. Thus, lancing may be required prior to administration of antibiotics.
Surgery: Sometimes ingrown hairs may be the cause of a boil. When this occurs in the buttock area, it is known as Pilonidal sinus. To treat the condition, one may require surgery to excise the skin with the ingrown hairs.
Depending on the size of the boils and area infected, different types of surgery may be required.
In the majority of cases, boils can be treated by simple lancing and keeping the area clean.