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Common Medicines To Treat Boils (Pigsa)

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 10, 2023

Common Medicines To Treat Boils (Pigsa)

Boils occur due to a bacterial infection with Staphylococcus aureus. Although mild cases of boils can be treated at home, severe ones require medication. In this article, we’ll talk about the various treatments and home remedies for boils. 

Boils Treatment At Home

Most cases of boils are not serious infections, and thus, can be treated with home remedies. 

Warm compress is a common treatment intervention. Simply soak a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess water, and then gently press the cloth to the boil for about 10 to 20 minutes. Do this several times daily. The warm compress helps improve blood circulation and drains the boil faster. 

Additionally, there are several natural remedies you can use to treat boils. 

Turmeric has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components that help get rid of boils. To use turmeric as a remedy, mix turmeric powder with water and apply it to the boil at least twice daily.

Experts believe tea tree oil may be able to eradicate the bacteria that cause boils because of its strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties. However, since tea tree oil can burn the skin, it is best to mix it with olive or coconut oil. Apply this mixture to the boil 2-3 times a day.

Despite being potentially effective, please consult a doctor first before using tea tree oil or turmeric. 


DO NOT pop the boil yourself. This can spread the infection to the surrounding skin area. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after treating boils.

Boils Treatment: Medicines

Moderate to severe forms of boils may require medication or surgical intervention. Antibiotics are medications often prescribed to combat bacterial infections. It is not a good idea to self-medicate with antimicrobials, this may lead to the development of resistance and treatment failure. A proper consultation with a doctor is needed to determine the right medication and duration of treatment.

Topical Treatment

Common topical medicines for boils include:

1. Mupirocin

Mupirocin is an antibiotic ointment that can treat boils because it can fight Staphylococcus aureus. Note that S. aureus also causes various skin problems, such as impetigo, eczema, psoriasis, and herpes.

Mupirocin works effectively by blocking the activity of the isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase enzyme. The bacteria use this enzyme to make proteins, which then infect the human body. Without this enzyme, the bacteria will die slowly, speeding up the healing process.

However, please strictly follow the doctor’s orders when using this medicine. 

Not only can this medicine affect the kidneys, there are also other side effects, such as itchy and hot skin around the boil area, swelling of the face or lips, headaches, and shortness of breath. 

2. Gentamicin

Gentamicin is a type of broad-spectrum antibiotic ointment, which belongs to the aminoglycoside class. It can be an effective boils treatment because it stops the growth of bacteria.

Be sure to use gentamicin according to the doctor’s instructions. Wrong application or dose may reduce the effectiveness and even worsen the boils. 

Before applying the ointment, wash your hands first. Then, apply a thin layer of ointment to the sore. Do this 3-4 times a day or as advised. Use it at the same time every day for more effective results. 

3. Benzocaine

Benzocaine can be the boils treatment for pain as it is a topical anesthetic. 

If used excessively, though, benzocaine ointment can cause side effects, such as skin irritation, redness, swelling of the face or tongue, and rashes. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have doubts and concerns about using this medicine. 

Oral Medicine For Boils

In addition to topical medications, some patients may also have to use oral drugs. Here are the common options:

1. Clindamycin

Doctors usually prescribe clindamycin to patients with severe infections, including pus-filled boils. Like Mupirucin, Clindamycin also inhibits the enzyme the bacteria use to infect the body.

2. Cephalexin

Another antibiotic, Cephalexin belongs to the class of cephalosporins. When used correctly, this boils treatment can be very effective in inhibiting the growth of the bacteria that cause boils.

Just like other types of antibiotics, cephalexin also has side effects that may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, rash, and fever.


Take oral antibiotics strictly as advised. Not following the correct dose and frequency can reduce their effectiveness. Moreover, not completing the therapy might mean you didn’t eliminate the infection. It also increases the risk of recurrence and need for stronger antibiotics. 

3. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen

In times when topical anesthetic no longer works, you might need to take paracetamol for pain. If there’s significant swelling, the doctor may even recommend ibuprofen to take care of both the pain and swelling. 

Most boils do not need special treatment. However, please pay attention to your symptoms.

If the boil continues to expand to more than 1 cm or does not deflate and dry after taking medicines, immediately consult a dermatologist. Visiting a doctor is also a must if you have unbearable pain or feel swollen lymph nodes. 

The doctor may inject a local anesthetic then drain the pus from the boil to prevent further infection that may occur.

Learn more about Skin Health here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Martha Juco, MD


Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 10, 2023

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