A skin abscess is a buildup of pus that develops in or under the skin due to a blockage and bacterial infection in the sebaceous glands, hair follicles, or small cuts or punctures in the skin. It may also be called a boil.
The area is usually swollen and either pink or red with a whitish-yellow head or center. The abscess can be painful to touch and a severe bacterial infection may even throb continuously.
These abscesses usually occur in the armpits, hips, groin, under the breasts and on the lower back.
People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing a skin abscess. In fact, having diabetes makes it harder to treat and heal skin abscesses, as it takes more effort by the body to eliminate the bacterial infection and the healing process can be quite slow.
A doctor may prescribe strong antibiotics to treat the abscess, but the medication can kill the healthy bacteria in your body, as well making you more vulnerable to infection.
The most important step in treating a skin abscess successfully is to drain the site and clear out all the pus to start the healing process.
Here are eight tried-and-true home remedies using simple household ingredients to treat and heal skin abscesses.
- Method 1: Turmeric
- Method 2: Toothpaste
- Method 3: Tea Tree Oil & Coconut Oil
- Method 4: Black Drawing Salve
- Step 1. Put beeswax and shea butter in a double boiler
- Step 2. Add olive and coconut oil and let the ingredients melt
- Step 3. Add honey, vitamin E and lavender essential oil
- Step 4. Mix and add activated charcoal and clay powder
- Step 5. Mix well, transfer to an airtight jar and use it to draw pus out of abscesses
- Method 5: Red Onion
- Method 6: Potato
- Method 7: Warm Compress
- Method 8: Epsom Salt Solution
Method 1: Turmeric
This bright yellow spice has been used to treat and heal infections in traditional Indian medicine since ancient times. Turmeric contains curcumin that has strong antimicrobial properties that help eliminate infection-causing bacteria and speed up healing.
Step 1. Combine turmeric and distilled water to make a fine paste
- Put 1 tablespoon of organic turmeric powder in a mixing dish.
- Add just enough distilled water to make a fine paste with a smooth consistency.
Step 2. Apply it on the skin abscess to draw out and drain the pus
- Mix the ingredients well to get a smooth blend.
- Apply the turmeric paste on the skin abscess and let it dry. As the turmeric dries, it will draw the blood and pus out of the abscess and kill any infection-causing microbes.
- Alternatively, you can apply the paste on the abscess and cover it with a bandage for a few hours or leave it on overnight.
- Once the boil bursts, clean up the pus using sterile cotton balls dipped in an antiseptic liquid.
To promote faster healing of the open sore, you can mix some organic turmeric powder and antiseptic cream, and apply it on the open abscess. Cover it with sterile gauze, then bandage the wound. Change it once every day until the abscess heals completely.
Method 2: Toothpaste
You can also use a calcium-based white toothpaste to treat and heal skin abscesses. As the toothpaste dries, it creates a suction effect that draws the pus from the abscess up to the surface.
Caution: Only apply toothpaste on a boil or abscess that has not yet ruptured. Do not apply it on exposed flesh in an open sore.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply white toothpaste on the skin abscess
- Squeeze out a small amount of toothpaste onto a clean finger.
- Apply a thick layer over the skin abscess, making sure you cover the entire area that feels swollen and inflamed.
- Let it dry on its own, then wash it off under running water.
- Do this once every hour. You will feel the pus being drawn to the surface.
- Stop applying the toothpaste once the abscess pops and starts discharging pus.
- Use sterile cotton pads to clean up all the drained out pus.
Clean the abscess with sterile cotton balls dipped in an antiseptic liquid. Afterward, apply an antiseptic cream, cover it with sterile gauze and a bandage. Clean the site and change the bandage once daily until the abscess heals completely.
Method 3: Tea Tree Oil & Coconut Oil
Tea tree essential oil has potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties that make it an excellent remedy for treating skin abscesses.
Coconut oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help provide relief to the swollen and inflamed skin.
A blend of the two will help dry up the pus and kill any infection-causing microbes to completely heal your skin abscess.
Note: If you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated, do a patch test on your skin before proceeding with application.
Things you’ll need:
- Tea tree oil (antimicrobial and antiseptic) – 10 to 15 drops
- Coconut oil (antibacterial and anti-inflammatory) – 1 tablespoon
Step 1. Mix tea tree and coconut oil
- Put 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil in a small mixing bowl.
- Add 10 to 15 drops of tea tree essential oil and blend the two well.
Step 2. Apply the oil blend on the pus-filled boil
- Apply the oil blend on the swollen red skin.
- Reapply 4 or 5 times a day.
Continue for at least 1 week or until the abscess is completely healed.
Method 4: Black Drawing Salve
This DIY drawing salve will help cure even the most stubborn skin abscesses. It contains strong absorbents like activated charcoal and clay, as well as healing and anti-inflammatory agents like honey and coconut oil.
Things you’ll need:
- Activated charcoal (strong absorbent properties) – 1 tablespoon
- Clay (strong absorbent and skin-soothing properties) – 1 tablespoon
- Coconut oil (antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties) – 1 tablespoon
- Lavender essential oil (reduces inflammation) – 10 drops
- Olive oil (moisturizes and soothes skin) – 1 tablespoon
- Honey (antibacterial and promotes healing) – ½ tablespoon
- Shea butter (moisturizes and nourishes skin) – 2 teaspoons
- Beeswax (antibacterial properties) – 1 tablespoon
- Vitamin E oil (nourishes skin and increases the shelf life of the salve) – 1 capsule
Step 1. Put beeswax and shea butter in a double boiler
- Set up a double boiler, turn on the heat and keep it on low.
- Put 1 tablespoon of beeswax in the glass bowl.
- Add 2 teaspoons of shea butter.
Step 2. Add olive and coconut oil and let the ingredients melt
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil as well.
- Melt and blend all these ingredients on low heat.
Step 3. Add honey, vitamin E and lavender essential oil
- Turn off the heat and remove the bowl from the pan. Use a dishcloth or oven mitt, as the bowl will be hot.
- Let it cool down a little.
- Add ½ tablespoon of honey.
- Pierce and empty the contents of 1 vitamin E capsule into the mix.
- Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil as well.
Step 4. Mix and add activated charcoal and clay powder
- Mix well to get a uniform blend.
- Add 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal powder to the prepared concoction.
- Add 1 tablespoon of natural clay powder as well.
Step 5. Mix well, transfer to an airtight jar and use it to draw pus out of abscesses
- Mix everything together thoroughly.
- Transfer the prepared salve into an airtight container for storage.
- Let it sit until it solidifies, then apply the salve on boils and skin abscesses.
- Leave it on for 6 to 8 hours or overnight in order to treat and heal skin abscesses.
- In case of a major infection, you may have to apply this drawing salve 2 or 3 times a day until all the pus drains out.
You can store this black drawing salve for 1 to 2 months and use it as needed to drain out pus from infected cuts or boils.
Method 5: Red Onion
Raw onion has anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiseptic properties that help treat boils and abscesses. Applying a slice of fresh red onion on the skin helps improve blood circulation in the affected area, which in turn helps draw the pus to the surface.
The juice from the onion slice also has a soothing effect on the hot, throbbing area to relieve pain.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a slice of raw, red onion to draw out the pus
- Peel and wash a medium-sized red onion.
- Finely slice the onion and apply one slice on the skin abscess.
- Cover it with a bandage.
- Replace it with a fresh slice of red onion every 3 to 4 hours.
Do this for 2 to 3 days until all the pus is drawn to the surface. Then drain and clear out all the pus and clean the wound with an antiseptic liquid to prevent further infection. Apply an antiseptic cream or powder and cover it with a bandage until the wound heals.
Method 6: Potato
A potato is not just useful for making delicious crispy hash browns or mashed potatoes. This starchy root vegetable in its raw form can also be used to treat minor burns, spider bites and even drain skin abscesses.
Applying a raw potato slice helps draw out the infection from the abscess, and also soothes the inflamed pus-filled skin providing relief to the sore and irritated skin.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a slice of raw potato to extract and drain the pus
- Peel and wash a large potato and chop off a thick slice from the middle.
- Place the raw potato slice on the pus-filled abscess.
- Cover it with a bandage to secure it in place.
- Leave it on overnight and remove the bandage and potato slice in the morning.
Clean the area using sterile cotton pads soaked in antiseptic liquid and cover with a clean dressing. Keep cleaning and changing the bandage once daily until the abscess has completely drained and healed.
Method 7: Warm Compress
You can also apply a warm compress to the skin abscess anywhere on your body to draw out and drain the pus.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a warm compress over the swollen area
- Soak a folded towel in warm water.
- Squeeze out the excess water.
- Apply the warm compress over the swollen area.
- Keep it gently pressed against the abscess to soften the pus-filled center.
- You can soak the cloth again in warm water and repeat application until the white or yellow head bursts on its own, discharging the pus.
After wiping away the pus, clean the area. Apply an antiseptic cream or powder and cover the area with a sterile gauze bandage to prevent infection. Repeat daily until the abscess has completely healed.
Method 8: Epsom Salt Solution
An Epsom salt soak can also draw the infection in a skin abscess toward the head, so it will rupture and drain out.
Single-Step Treatment: Soak the affected area in the hot Epsom salt bath
- Pour some hot water into a bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt crystals.
- Stir until the salt has completely dissolved in the water.
- Soak the area with the skin abscess in the hot Epsom salt solution for 10 to 15 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day.
- This will provide some relief to the inflamed area and also treat and heal skin abscesses.
- After a few soaks, the pus will be drawn toward the head. The hot water and salt will further soften the head, causing it to burst and drain out its contents.
Once the abscess has been drained, keep cleaning the wound site with a strong antiseptic liquid and bandage it after applying an antiseptic ointment for at least 1 week or until the skin heals completely.
- Never press the abscess to forcefully pop and drain the boil. This can actually drive the pus inward and further irritate the swollen area.
- Do not pick at scabs, as doing so can cause further infection and result in permanently hollowed-out skin.
- If despite all efforts, your abscess expands in the form of angry-looking red streaks moving away from the center, go to a doctor immediately to get it drained and treated.
- Do not go to sleep with your makeup on, as doing so can lead to blocked pores that contribute to abscesses.
- Use natural or skin-safe products to prevent skin inflammation and infection.
- Wash your hands and use sanitizer on a regular basis to avoid contracting infections.