In most cases, boils do not require treatment. The boils fade off automatically within a span of one week, or a maximum of two weeks. Only when you have developed complications you need to be treated with antibiotics. For example, if the infection has spread into the deep layer of the skin, called subcutaneous, then you should take antibiotics in order to combat the further spread of the condition and to avoid further complications. This development is known as cellulitis. This problem normally does not occur with teenagers or young adults. However, old people are more prone to this condition as their immune systems used to be weak due to their old age. For young people too, if they have become weak due to reasons such as being diabetic, suffering from HIV, or undergoing medications such as chemotherapy that would weaken the immune system, they should be treated cautiously with proper antibiotics to tide over this problem.
Certain self-care techniques can be adapted to treat boils. However, you should take utmost care when you want to treat it at your home effectively. You should not try to pierce or squeeze the head of the boil. This can spread the infection to other areas of the body. You can speed up the healing process by applying clean hot packs or hot soaks on the boil for about ten minutes. This you can do three to four times a day. This technique increases the amount of heat and consequently the blood circulation at the infected site and around the boil. The white cells in this fresh blood supply fight the bacteria present in the affected area and enable speedy recovery. However, do not forget to wash your hands with soap and hot water after giving this treatment. This can thus prevent the spread of any bacteria to other parts of your body or to other persons. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage your boil pain. These medicines are available over the counter.
Alternatively, you can seek medical attention by visiting your doctor. This is more necessary especially when you have developed complications and your symptoms are not manageable through self-care techniques discussed above. Based on your medical history your physician may prescribe a course of antibiotics. Your doctor may also try to remove the pus from the boil by making a small incision on the boil or with the help of a sterilized needle. This process, known as lancing the boil, should be done by a healthcare professional only, having proper training and the right kind of equipment for doing this. If the infection has gone deep into the boil, your doctor may cover the boil with sterile gauze after draining out the pus, because in cases of deep infection complete removal of pus may not be possible. However, the remaining pus drains out gradually after placement of the sterile gauze.
Even after lancing, doctors prescribe antibiotics to prevent any accompanying bacterial infection. However, every situation does not require antibiotics. The reality is that antibiotics will not penetrate the outer wall of a boil and cure it.