When a boil emerges on your skin, it serves as a visible indicator, much like a litmus paper test, revealing the presence of a bacterial infection. This swollen lump filled with pus results from the infection and inflammation of your hair follicles. While boils share similarities with pimples and inverse acne (a skin condition marked by lumps beneath the skin), they stand out due to their larger size and increased discomfort. Boils may also manifest in clusters, collectively referred to as a carbuncle. (1)
Boils may appear in any part of the skin; the neck, face, shoulder, armpit, and buttocks are usually the most common places where this lump develops.
What is a Boil?
Boils, also known as furuncles, are caused by the infection of hair follicles. This infection is typically triggered by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus and, in more severe cases, by the Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Staphylococcus aureus is naturally found in healthy individuals’ upper respiratory tract and skin.
Recurrent, severe, and rapidly growing boils often result from MRSA infection, making them resistant to antibiotics. Boils can develop on any skin type, regardless of gender, age, or complexion. However, teenagers and young adults are more prone to experiencing them. As a boil grows, it puts pressure on the skin, leading to redness in the surrounding areas and causing intense pain.
In the final stages of development, a yellow or white tip forms at the top of the boil, and if not adequately treated, it may release pus. Instead of squeezing it with fingers, which can drive the infection deeper, it is advisable to seek medical attention. There are safe and relatively effective remedies for boils, but before delving into those, let’s explore some factors that could make the skin more susceptible to developing boils. (2).
Factors That May Expose The Skin To Boil Infections
1. Previous History of Boil Infections
These may be recurrent boils caused mainly by the MRSA bacteria responsible for the infection and inflammation. Such boils could reappear two or more times within a year.
2. Close Contact With an Infected Person
The pus and dead tissues in boils are highly infectious and may easily infect someone who comes in contact with them. This can be a problem in hospitals, nursing homes, and family houses. To avoid contact, stay away from clothing items body washes, and avoid close contact with infected persons (3).
3. Eczema, Scabies, and Other Skin Infections
Any skin condition that can cause one to scratch and damage the epidermis could lead to boils. Eczema and scabies are two common ones.
4. Poor Immune System
When the immune system, responsible for fighting ‘foreign elements,’ gets weak, anything, including boils, can quickly strike. You will need a healthy diet, fruits, and adequate exercise daily to keep your immune system strong.
5. Stress and sickness
Excessive exposure to stressful living conditions may increase your chance of having boils. Also, some ailments, such as type 2 diabetes, may increase your chances of having boils.
Obesity may increase water loss across the skin surface, which will, in turn, leave the skin dry and increase the chances of skin irritation. The skin irritation may cause an infection, which leads to boils. Also, the skin folds of obese persons may serve as a conducive growth environment to retain boil-causing bacteria, which multiply rapidly and infect the hair follicles (4).
5 Easy and Effective Home Remedies To Treat Boils
Some easy yet effective home remedies can be used to treat boils. They include:
1. Use of Neem Leaves
Fresh neem leaves or oil have antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiseptic properties, making it a potent cure for many skin conditions, including boils.
Directions for Use
- Blend the finely selected neem leaves into a fine paste.
- Apply the paste directly to the boil and surrounding skin area 3-4 times daily.
- You may also use neem oil in the same way.
2. Use of Cumin Paste and Castor Oil
Castor oil contains the natural anti-inflammatory compound ricinoleic acid and antibacterial properties that help fight boils. The other ingredient – cumin paste, is a natural coolant that reduces boiler irritation.
Directions for Use
- Soak a teaspoon of cumin seed in water for half an hour
- Blend it into a thick paste
- Add a few drops of castor oil to the blend
- Apply this mixture to the boil and leave it to dry
- Repeat the process 3-4 times daily.
3. Use Turmeric
Turmeric has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that eliminate the infection and inflammation of hair follicles. Thus, it serves as a potent remedy for the treatment of boil. Turmeric may be ingested or applied topically to treat boils (5).
Directions for Use
- For topical application – Blend the turmeric roots into a fine paste or mix the turmeric powder with a proportional quantity of water to make an evenly distributed paste.
- Apply the paste directly to the boil twice a day.
- Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after each application.
4. Use Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil
Tea tree oil has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties, essential in treating boils. However, topical application of tea tree oil may result in a burning sensation.
Directions for Use
- Add a teaspoon of coconut oil to five teaspoons of tea tree oil.
- Mix both oils to get an evenly distributed mixture.
- Soak the oil mixture using a cotton swab and apply directly to the infected skin area.
- Repeat this process two or more times daily.
- Continue this process until the boil is completely gone.
5. Use Onion and Garlic Paste
Applying heat to the skin areas surrounding the bacterial infection may help attract white blood cells and antibodies to fight the bacteria. In addition, a paste made of onion and garlic is efficient as both cloves have a pungent smell and antibacterial properties.
Also, heat is generated internally due to the pressure exerted on the skin during pus formation. This leaves the surrounding skin area aflame and can be distressing. The aromatic properties of garlic and onion paste may help reduce distress (6).
Directions for Use
- Blend a small onion ball with two pods of garlic.
- Add two teaspoons of water to the blend.
- Mix the blend and water, then extract the juice from the mixture.
- Apply the juice extract to the Boil every three hours for the best results.
Advantages of Using Home Remedies To Treat Boil Infection
The five home remedies discussed above are easy to make and very effective in treating a bacterial infection on the skin. Some of their significant advantages include:
1. Easy to Make:
All the essential ingredients required to make these treatments are easily found in an average kitchen’s pantry drawer. Onions, garlic, and Turmeric are common; the less common ones, like neem leaf and tea tree oil, can be purchased from local stores. Home remedies for the treatment of boils are easy to make, time-saving, and effective.
2. Zero Complications:
These home remedies are made from natural ingredients. This means that common complications or allergies from using the wrong products on your skin for treatment can be avoided. The boil treatment using these ingredients is relatively safe and won’t lead to further skin health complications.
3. Skin Detoxification & Moisturization:
Using neem leaves, tea tree oil, and castor oil may serve purposes beyond boiling treatment – these ingredients are suitable for detoxifying the skin. Using the wrong products may temporarily eliminate boils but cause more long-term skin conditions. However, these home remedies ensure the boil infection is treated, and your overall skin health is improved.
Also Read – 15 Health Benefits of Ginseng Root for Women
Disadvantages of Using Home Remedies To Treat Boil Infection
- They treat the bacterial infection but cannot identify or treat the causative factors. Boils may develop due to stress, skin irritation, or contact with us, and in some cases, it may be a more severe infection caused by MRSA or a precursor to some underlying health condition like type 2 diabetes.
- Home care remedies are most effective in treating small, non-recurrent boils. However, you must consult your medical practitioner for further examination and treatment for the severe, reoccurring infection caused by Methicillin-resistant S.aureus (MRSA).
Bacterial activity on the skin results in infections which leads to many skin conditions including boils. Boil infection is caused by the infectious activities of Staphylococcus aureus and the MRSA bacteria. Some factors that may expose your skin to boil infection include, contact with an infected person, previously existing skin infection, poor immune system, skin irritation, etc. Interestingly, there are home remedies that have proven to be effective in the treatment of boils. These remedies also leave the skin nourished, immune to further infection, healthy, and with a better overall appearance. These home care treatments are prepared with natural ingredients and are time-conserving, money-saving, effective, and safe to the skin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why am I getting boils all of a sudden?
Bacterial infections cause boils. If you suddenly start having boils, you need to evaluate your hygiene level, stress level, recent contacts made, etc. It could be a carbuncle if the boils are many simultaneously. Carbuncles require the immediate attention of a health expert.
Are there foods that can cause boils?
Research has yet to confirm this, but some foods are believed to increase an individual’s risk of boils. Excessive consumption of sugary foods like corn syrup, soda, white flour, noodles, etc., can contribute to inflamed skin lesions and sores. If you are committed to staying away from practices that could cause boils, stay away from them.
What happens if you leave a boil untreated?
Leaving a boil untreated is unhealthy and not recommended. It could lead to scarring and, in some conditions, blood poisoning, also called sepsis.
How do I stop getting boils?
To stop getting boils, you need to identify and treat the root cause – it may be an underlying health condition. Consult your health care expert if you believe it is an MRSA, practice good hygiene, stay healthy, avoid stress, and take proper care of your skin.
- “Boils” – webmd.com
- “Boils, Carbuncles, and Furunculosis” – patient.info
- “How to get rid of boils on the buttocks” – medicalnewstoday.com
- “Obesity and Skin Problems” – news-medical.net
- “Turmeric for Skin: Benefits and Risks” – healthline.com
- “Home remedies for boils” – medicalnewstoday.com