Boils and abscesses are inflamed, pus-filled and red bumps that form under the skin. They’re usually painful and grow larger until they’re completely drained. Boils are often caused by bacteria that infect and then inflame the hair follicles. They could grow to the size of a baseball and the area surrounding the skin and can be red and painful too.
You should never squeeze a boil as it may end up infecting surrounding areas if not drained properly. It could even push the infection deeper into the skin and lead to worse boils.
Boils appear commonly in areas like the armpits, face, neck, buttocks and shoulders. If drainage is needed, it’s best you let a doctor handle this as it should only be done in a sterile environment.
A lot of boils could treated in the comfort of your home with home remedies. But first, what causes boils?
Causes of Boils
A lot of boils are caused by germs like Staphylococcal bacteria. This germ gets into the body through cuts on the skin or down the hair to the follicle.
The following health issues could make you more susceptible to skin infections:
• Poor nutrition
• Immune system problems
• Exposure to harsh chemicals that irritate the skin
• Poor hygiene
Symptoms of Boils
A boil will usually start out red, hard and painful. It starts with a lump half an inch and continues to grow larger, softer and much more painful. Soon, there’s a pocket of pus on top of the boil. Below are signs of a severe infection :
• More boils around the original one
• Skin around the boil becomes infected. It gets red, warm, painful and swollen
• Swollen lymph nodes
When to Seek Medical Care
• When you start running a fever
• Your lymph nodes are swollen
• The pain is almost unbearable
• The boil does not drain
• The skin around the boil gets red
• Another boil appears
• You have a heart problem , diabetes , any problem with your immune system, or use immune suppressing drugs (for example, corticosteroids or chemotherapy ) and you develop a boil.
Boils usually do not need immediate emergency attention. However, if you are in poor health and you develop high fever and chills along with the infection, a trip to a hospital’s emergency room is needed.
1. Apply heat
Heat helps boost circulation in an area, bringing more antibodies and white blood cells to the area to fight the infection. Therefore, when you apply heat to a boil, the boil will most likely disappear.
Simply apply a warm compress and leave for twenty minutes. Do this four times a day everyday till the boil disappears.
2. Tea tree oil
Tea tree essential oil possesses strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties which can help treat the underlying infection responsible for the boil. Tea tree oil shouldn’t be applied topically onto the skin as it could have a burning effect.
To use :
• Mix five drops of the oil with one teaspoon of a carrier oil (olive or coconut).
• Soak a cotton swab in it and apply to the affected area thrice a day.
• Repeat this everyday until the boil is gone
3. Turmeric powder
Turmeric powder has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which help to heal a boil and get rid of it as fast as possible. It has been in use as a natural blood purifier and for thousands of years in Eastern medicine as a result.
You can choose to ingest the powder or apply onto the affected area.
If you’re going to ingest turmeric powder, boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder in water or milk and drink thrice everyday when it’s cool.
If you’re going to apply topically, mix with water or ginger and make a paste. Apply the paste to your boil at least two times a day.
4. Epsom salt
Epsom salt has been known for its relaxing properties. Surprisingly, it can also be used to treat boils. The salt can help dry out the pus, letting the pus drain.
Simply dissolve some of the salt in warm water and soak a compress in it. Apply the compress to the area for twenty minutes at a time. Repeat at least three times a day until the boil is gone.
5. Castor oil
Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid which is a potent and natural anti-inflammatory compound. Along with its antibacterial properties, it’s an effective boil treatment.
Simply apply a little amount of castor oil on the boil at least thrice daily till the boil disappears.
6. Neem oil
Neem oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help treat skin infections like boils fast. To treat boils with this, apply some of it directly on the boil thrice a day. Be sure to wash you hands before application and right after.
What can people do to prevent boils (abscesses)?
There are a few measures that you can take to prevent boils from forming, although boils are not completely preventable.
Good hygiene and the regular use of antibacterial soaps can help to prevent bacteria from building up on the skin. This will help reduce the chances of your hair follicles getting infected, this preventing the formation of boils.
Pilonidal cysts can be prevented by avoiding continuous direct pressure or irritation of the buttock area when a local hair follicle becomes inflamed. At that point, regular soap and hot water cleaning and drying can be helpful.
For acne and hidradenitis suppurativa, oral or topical antibiotics may be required on a long-term basis to prevent recurrent abscess formation. As mentioned above, surgical resection of sweat glands in the involved skin may be necessary. Other medications, such as isotretinoin (Accutane), can be used for cystic acne and have been helpful in some patients with hidradenitis suppurativa. Recurrences are common in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa.
Finally, surgery may occasionally be needed, especially for pilonidal cysts that recur but also for hidradenitis suppurativa. For pilonidal cysts, surgically removing the outer shell of the cyst is important to clear the boil. The procedure is typically performed in the operating room. For hidradenitis suppurativa, extensive involvement can require surgical repair by a plastic surgeon .