Boil Antibiotics: Over-the-Counter and Prescribed

What is a boil?

A painful, pus-filled bump that forms under your skin can develop when bacteria infects and inflames a hair follicle. The infected bump, also called a “furuncle”, will become larger and more painful until eventually it bursts and drains.

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A minor surgery that involves opening and draining the boil can treat most cases. Sometimes, antibiotics may be required to treat the underlying infection.

Antibiotics for boils

Most boils are caused due to the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, also known by staph. Your doctor may prescribe intravenous, topical, and oral antibiotics to combat this infection.

  • Amikacin
  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil Moxatag, Amoxil)
  • Ampicillin
  • Cefazolin (Ancef, Kefzol)
  • Cefotaxime
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin, Benzaclin, Veltin)
  • Doxycycline (Doryx Oracea, Vibramycin).
  • Erythromycin (Erygel and Eryped)
  • Gentamicin (Gentak)
  • levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Mupirocin (Centany)
  • Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra)
  • Tetracycline

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What is the best antibiotic to treat boils?

Your specific circumstances will determine the antibiotic that your doctor prescribes.

Some antibiotics may not work because certain strains of staph — over 30 — have developed resistance to antibiotics.

Your doctor may suggest that you send a sample from the boil to the lab before prescribing antibiotics. This will allow your doctor to determine which antibiotic is most effective.

What about the over-the-counter remedies for boils?

The majority of OTC (over-the-counter) boil medications focus on pain relief. OTC antibiotics are not suitable for treating boils.

The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology states that OTC antibiotics such as Neosporin or Bacitracin on your boil are ineffective since they won’t penetrate infected skin.

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Do I have to take all of the antibiotics?

You’ll feel better if the antibiotic is working. You might want to stop taking the medication once you feel better. Stopping the medication is a bad idea as you could get sick again.

When you are given an oral antibiotic, follow the instructions and complete all prescribed medication. You might not have eliminated all bacteria if you stop taking the medication too soon.

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This could lead to you becoming sick again and the bacteria may become resistant to your antibiotic. Your doctor should also review any signs and symptoms that indicate your infection is getting worse.