Five steps your patients can take when treating boils or styes at home


Here are five recommendations on how your patients can treat their boils or styes at home, from a New York-based dermatologist courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

It is important that a patient resists the temptation to squeeze a boil or stye, said Dr. Nada Elbuluk, assistant professor of dermatology, New York University Langone Medical Center in New York.

“This will prevent the infection from spreading and help prevent or minimize scarring,” added Dr. Elbuluk, who was quoted in an AAD press release.

When a patient has a boil or stye and they are caring for it at home, Dr. Elbuluk recommends the following tips to her patients:

1. Make a warm compress: Applying heat in the form of a warm compress is the best way to treat boils and styes. Be careful not to use water that is too hot, especially on children.

2. Apply the warm compress: Hold the compress to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes three to four times daily until the boil or stye releases pus and heals.

3. Consider taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen: If a boil or stye is painful, a patient should consider ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce the pain.

4. Keep the area clean: Always keep the area clean, and avoid touching or rubbing the boil or stye. A patient should avoid wearing eye makeup or contact lenses until the stye has healed.

5. Keep it covered: If a boil bursts, it should be covered with a sterile bandage or gauze to prevent infection while it heals.

“Most boils and styes heal on their own within one to three weeks,” said Dr. Elbuluk. She added, however, that a patient should follow-up with their doctor if the pain or swelling worsens after several days, another boil or stye appears, or if fever or vision problems develop along with the infection.

These tips are demonstrated in a ‘How to Treat Boils and Styes’ video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel.

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