Treatment for boil focuses on reducing the pain and facilitating drainage of the pus. Boils are traditionally treated with topical antibiotics. Occasionally, in the case of severe infections, oral antibiotics may be recommended for healing the infection and preventing recurrence.
Medications for Treating Boils
Applying benzocaine ointment to the boil helps to numb the pain. This local anesthetic ointment obstructs transmission of the pain signal. A small amount of the ointment is sufficient for reducing the pain. Large amounts of benzocaine should not be used topically.Fatal side effects such as respiratory failure, uneven heart rhythm, seizure and coma may occur when too much of the numbing medication enters the blood through the skin. Benzocaine should be used only according to the direction of the physician.
Topical antibiotic is the first line treatment for boils.
Mupirocin is a topical antibiotic used for treating boils. It belongs to the class of antibiotics known as monoxycarbolic acid. At high concentrations, topical application of this antibiotic medication kills bacteria responsible for the skin infection. It is highly effective against MRSA and other gram-positive bacteria.
Mupirocin ointment is usually applied to the boil thrice a day. Only a small amount of the antibiotic ointment is sufficient for healing the infection. It is usually used for up to two weeks. Prolonged or indiscriminate use of mupirocin may cause resistance to the antibiotic medication. Pain, burning, itching, stinging and skin rash are common side effects of mupirocin ointments.
Gentamicin is a broad spectrum antibiotic used for treating boils. Ointments containing this antibiotic can heal the infected skin. A small amount of the gentamicin ointment should be applied to the boils three to four times daily. However, it should not be used for more than two weeks. Prolonged use of the antibiotic ointment increases the risk of resistance to the antibiotic medication. Gentamicin, when used topically, is well tolerated.
Oral therapy is recommended only for treating severe infections. Oral antibiotics are primarily prescribed for healing boils that develop on sensitive areas of the body such as the face and genitals. Oral antibiotics are also needed when the infection reaches the deeper layer of the skin and a secondary infection such as cellulites develops.
Penicillin based antibiotics such as flucloxacillin are widely prescribed by physicians for treating boils. These antibiotics are taken orally, usually four times a day, preferably one hour before or two hours after meals. When an antibiotic is prescribed for treating an infection, the full course of the medication should be finished to prevent recurrent infections and resistance to the antibiotic drug.
Penicillin based antibiotics can cause side effects such as diarrhea, liver problem, joint pain, skin rash, fever and muscle pain. These drugs should be avoided by people with a history of penicillin allergy.
Macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin are prescribed for treating boils to patients susceptible to penicillin allergy. These medications are usually taken orally three to four times a day or as directed by the physician. The duration of the treatment depends on the severity of the infection. The antibiotic medication should not be taken with or immediately after drinking fruit juices of colas. Stomach upset, stomach pain, stomach cramp, diarrhea, vomiting and skin rash are common side effects of the drug.