Alternative Advice

Many people take the herbal route when trying to clear up infections. To try this with a boil, apply tea tree oil to the area several times a day. The substance, which has been used for hundreds of years to clean wounds and kill bacteria, might help the boil heal faster. Be aware, however, that some people are allergic to tea tree oil [source: Mayo Clinic].

Bacterial Skin Infection Treatments

Treatment of bacterial skin infections will depend on their severity. For a small occurrence of some infections, for example, an at-home treatment might be enough. However, for contagious or more widespread infections, medical treatment may be necessary.

Cellulitis should be treated by a doctor because it can spread to other areas of the body, including the brain if the infection is present on the face [source: WebMD]. Treatment includes:

  • Antibiotics
  • Applying warm, wet dressings to the infected area
  • Rest
  • Elevating the infected area if possible

Mild infections are normally treated at home with antibiotic pills, but more severe infections might require intravenous antibiotics delivered at a hospital [source: WebMD].

Mild folliculitis normally clears up in less than two weeks, but you can apply warm compresses to help relieve itching [WebMD, Mayo Clinic]. If there's no change after three days or if the infection appears to have spread, you should seek a doctor's help. More severe infections require antibiotics.

To clear up a pesky boil, apply a warm, wet compress to the area, which will bring the pus to the surface. Do not pop the boil; instead, wait for it to burst on its own because interference can make the infection worse [source: WebMD]. Be sure to wash the wound regularly with antibacterial soap until it heals. A doctor may be able to drain large boils or carbuncles surgically, which can reduce scarring. The doctor also might prescribe antibiotics to help with infections that are severe or difficult to eliminate [source: Mayo Clinic].

Impetigo requires treatment by a doctor because it can be contagious. Treatment includes an antibiotic cream for mild infections or antibiotic pills for more severe infections. With proper treatment, the sores will generally heal in about seven days. You are usually not considered contagious if you have been under treatment for 48 hours or more [source: WebMD].

Wondering which of these infections is contagious? Read on to find out.