How to Soothe a Boil and Bring to a Head by Yourself

Do you have a boil on your skin and don't know what to do? Don't worry you're not a freak. A lot of people get boils, and lucky for you we have the solution.

Boils are a common, painful skin infection that usually occurs on the neck, face, or buttocks. They are caused by bacteria entering the skin through a break in the surface. Boils can be lanced at home if you have the proper supplies and know-how.

No one wants to deal with pimples, let alone a boil. If you were far away from civilization and had to figure this out by yourself, could you stomach the queasiness and go for it?

In this article, we will discuss how to lance a boil by yourself, as well as what to do after the lance.

What is a Boil?

A boil is a hard pus-filled lump on your skin. It can be as small as the size of a pea or can grow up to a size of a golf ball. It can easily get more infected and inflamed than it already is if it’s not treated promptly, so it’s something you definitely want to take care of.

A boil can be filled with bacteria and make the area sore to the touch and can be quite uncomfortable.

There are a few things that you can try first, but when all else fails, a boil just has to be lanced.

Different stages that a boil goes through
Stages of a Boil

What to Try Before You Use a Lance?

Before you go at it with a lance which is really an unpleasant experience you can try the following first to see if you can get the boil pop on its own or for it to go away with little to no interference.

You want to look for the area to come together in a “head”. That’s where the pus attempts to find its way to the surface. If it comes to a head, it can be drained easily. Sometimes it makes it; other times, you may have to cut and drain.

inflamed boil
A boil can get big and inflamed

Home Remedies to Bring the Boil to a Head

Be sure never to force a boil to open. Although painful a boil is the body’s way of defending itself. Here are a few things that you can try to help soothe and bring the area to a head.

Heat the affected area with a cloth

Heat the area to a moderate temperature using a moist wet cloth that you hold over the affected area. Hold this for 10 minutes and do several sessions.

Heat starts the process, increases blood flow carrying antibodies, and aids in the infection’s resolution.

Use the alternating heat for a few days. You hope that the infection will go away or that the boil will drain on its own.

Take a hot bath with Epsom salts

Epsom salts will increase circulation and help to bring the boil to a head. Do this a few times a day and you should start to see the size, shape and texture of the boil start to change. That’s a good sign.

honey good for boils
Honey has natural antiseptic properties

Other Home Remedies you can try

Although these are not tested as to their effectiveness, many people have reported some measure of relief and success.

  • HoneyHas natural antiseptic properties so do not worry about it getting everywhere. Though it may become a sticky mess.
  • Lemon juice – A few cloves crushed and pressed can be made into a compress on the boil.
  • Apple cider vinegar – The acidity will help bring the boil to a head quicker.
  • Onion – Raw onion slices can be placed directly on the affected area
  • Tumeric – Has anti-inflammation properties and can be used by creating a paste with a bit of water mixed with turmeric powder.

If these do not work at least you will be giving the boil some time to soften from a solid mass (as it will only bleed if you lance it) into a softer problem to deal with, one that drains more easily.

What you are looking for is the boil to come to a head. You will start to see a peak and the pus will start to come to the surface similar to a pimple.

How to Lance a Boil by Yourself at Home?

If the heat hasn’t worked, the redness is spreading, you’re feverish, or the pain is just too severe, it’s time to go to the doctor. If you can not get to a doctor for some reason then lancing is your next best alternative.

Here is a video giving you a step by step approach

Step by Step Approach to Lance a Boil

To lance a boil you’ll need a few things:

  1. Soap
  2. Water
  3. Disinfectant
  4. Ice (for numbing the area)
  5. A sterilized knife
  6. Gauze (for covering the wound)
Be sure to sterilize the instrument wash your hands and the area around the boil

Step 1. Prep Yourself

  1. Wash hands and put on some latex gloves
  2. Find the pointed area on the skin
  3. Clean the area with iodine or alcohol
  4. Numb the area using a few ice cubes

Step 2. Prep Equipment

  1. Sterilize a clean knife (Place the tip of the knife in a fire and then use alcohol on the tip of the knife)
  2. Place gauze under the boil for when the pus starts draining

Step 3. Lance the boil

  1. Make an incision. If the pus starts to drain then use the gauze to wipe it, if it doesn’t, you can cut it a bit deeper. You shouldn’t need to go very deep, especially if there is a head. Don’t just keep stabbing.
  2. As the draining begins, be sure to clean the area and dispose of anything used in the operation.
  3. Cover the wound with a cloth or gauze.

Step 4. Watch  

After the boil finishes to drain cover with ointment and place a warm cloth over top.

You are watching to see how the wound heals. If the wound closes before the infection heals, you may need to reopen it.

smaller red boil
Red boil

What Not to Do?

Squeezing the area is not advised. You’re sure to just make it more inflamed. If you can’t get to a doctor, you might want to take some oral antibiotics if you have them.

Take Notice

  • If you become feverish or get chills – seek medical attention.
  • Remember to wash hands and keep the area clean
  • Carbuncles are clusters of boils, and if you have a lot of them these should be examined by a physician.


If you’re experiencing a boil, there are a few things that you can try before resorting to lancing. Once you get it to a head it will be much easier to deal with. Be sure to keep an eye on the wound as it heals to make sure that it does not turn into an infection.

Have you had to lance a boil by yourself?


[1] How to Drain an Abscess or Boil.

[2] Keeping the boil clean.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.


More Articles