The appearance of a boil is like a litmus paper test that signals bacterial infection on the skin. This pus-filled lump is caused by the infection and inflammation of your hair follicles. A boil is similar to pimples and acne inverse (a skin condition characterized by lumps under the skin), but unlike these two, the boil is much bigger, more discomforting. It may appear in a group known 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?
The infection of hair follicles causes boil, also known as furuncles, by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus or by the more severe Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus (MRSA). The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is present in the upper respiratory tract and skin of healthy humans. When boils are recurrent, severe, and rapidly growing, they are usually caused by MRSA infection and are immune to most antibiotics.
Boils may appear on any skin, irrespective of gender, age, or complexion. However, teenagers and young adults are known to suffer the most from it. As the boil develops and enlarges, it exerts pressure on the skin, which may redden the surrounding areas and cause intense pains.
At the final stage of its development, a yellow or white tip forms at the top and may spill the pus if not properly taken care of. At this stage, a patient is advised to see a medical expert instead of the popular culture of squeezing it with the fingers, which drives the skin infection deeper and worsens the situation. Just like consulting an expert, some remedies have proven to be safe and relatively effective. However, before discussing them, let’s look at some factors that could predispose the skin to boils (2).
Factors That May Expose The Skin To Boil Infections
1. Previous History of Boil Infections
These may be recurrent boils mostly caused by the MRSA bacteria, responsible for the infection and inflammation. Such boils could reappear two or more times within the space of a year.
2. Close Contact With an Infected Person
The pus and dead tissues in boils are highly infectious and may easily infect someone that comes in contact with them. This can be a problem in hospitals, nursing homes, and even 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, which is responsible for fighting ‘foreign elements’, gets weak, anything including boils, can easily strike. To keep your immune system strong, you will need a daily intake of a healthy diet, fruits, and adequate exercise.
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 the development of 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 called ricinoleic acid and antibacterial properties that help in fighting boils. The other ingredient – cumin paste, is a natural coolant that reduces irritation on a boil.
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 get rid of 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 hand thoroughly before and after each application.
4. Use Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil
The tea tree oil has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which are 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.
- Using a cotton swab, soak up the oil mixture 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 boil 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 pungent 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 once every three hours to get the best results.
Advantages of Using Home Remedies To Treat Boil Infection
The 5 home remedies discussed above are easy to make and very effective in treating a boil infection on the skin. Some of their significant advantages include:
1. Easy to Make:
All the basic 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 that may occur from using the wrong products on your skin for treatment purposes can be avoided. The treatment of boils using these mentioned ingredients is relatively safe and won’t lead to further skin health complications.
3. Skin Detoxification & Moisturization:
The use of neem leaves, tea tree oil, and castor oil may serve purposes further than boil treatment – these ingredients are good for detoxifying the skin. Using the wrong products may temporarily get rid of boils but cause more long-term skin conditions. However, using these home remedies ensures 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 boil infection but are unable to identify or treat the causative factors. Boils may develop due to stress, skin irritation, contact with pus, 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 the treatment of small, non-recurrent boils. However, for the severe, reoccurring infection caused by the Methicillin-resistant S.aureus (MRSA), you will need to consult your medical practitioner for further examination and treatment.
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. If the boils are many at the same point, it could be a carbuncle. Carbuncles require the immediate attention of a health expert.
Are there foods that can cause boils?
Research is yet to confirm this, but some foods are believed to increase an individual’s chances of having 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 of the boil – it may be an underlying health condition. Consult your health care expert if you have reasons to believe it is an MRSA, practice good hygiene, stay healthy, avoid stress and take proper care of your skin.