All About Boils, Boils, Boils!

(Photo Credit:
(Photo Credit:

Dreadful!    This is what comes into the mind of people who realize they have a boil, an abscess or, worse, a carbuncle.

Is it a boil?  An abscess ?  or a carbuncle?  Truth is, they are interrelated.

*  A boil, also known as a furuncle, is a skin infection that takes place when a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus infect and inflame one or more hair follicles.  It can pop out on any part of the body and start very small like a nodule or a pimple; and develops into a warm, reddened, painful, pus-filled bump .  As the infection worsens, the boil becomes firm, hard and yet more tender to touch.  Then it produces  more infectious pus; growing larger and more painful .  Recurring boil is called chronic furunculosis.  Some people are so exasperated with this skin infection that keeps recurring, and  somehow spread to other members of the family.

*  An abscess relates to a collection of pus that has accumulated  in a crater within tissues, as a defensive reaction to counteract infectious spread to other parts of the body.

*  A  carbuncle refers to a cluster of skin boils ; also filled with fluid and pus, plus some dead tissues.

A boil  that becomes abscessed or worsens into carbuncle is something that fills people with dread; more so, when the infection takes place in the most sensitive areas of the body like the buttocks, armpits, and groin, which tend to hurt even more from movement and pressure.   Having it on exposed areas like face, neck, hands, arms or legs bring further humiliation. They could grow from the size of a pea into a golf ball; becoming more and more painful as it gets inflamed and when pressure is applied on affected area.  The boil is ready to discharge pus when the center of the lump shows a white or yellowish point; a signal that it is ready to drain itself and relieve a person’s distress and proceed with healing.

Why People get boils

There are generally only two conditions which bring about boils:

1)   Staphylococcus aureus ,  a spherical bacterium which resides on our skin and nasal passages may enter sweat glands or hair follicles, infect one or more; hence, causing a boil to pop out.

2)  Toxic condition in the blood stream which may be due to an unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, and devitalized conditions like weak immunity of persons with diabetes and immune system disorders could bring about an onset of boils.

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(Photo Credit:

The most commonly mentioned causes like ingrown hair, friction from clothing or shaving, lack of hygienic practices like daily baths and overall cleanliness practices  actually aggravate the infection and may lead to more severe conditions if left unattended.

Severity of the infection includes fever , swollen lymph nodes and a strong feeling of fatigue. If left unattended, the infection could spread into the bloodstream, contaminate other organs and become a threat to one”s life.

Diabetes, obesity, and hematologic disorders  are known factors that lower resistance to certain bacteria and fungi; thus making people with said conditions more prone to boils and carbuncles.

As an overview, complications are generally very minimal; except on cases when infection advances so fast and extends to the bloodstream. Now this can be very serious as there could be blood poisoning from the pus that entered the bloodstream and got spread to other vital organs of the body which may lead to death.

It is therefore necessary to  see a doctor if  any severe symptoms manifest.  The doctor may suggest use of antibacterial soaps and have some antibiotics applied on the inflamed areas or to be taken orally.  Boils or furuncles that have grown unusually large or have lasted longer than two weeks may have to  be incised and drained.  The most delicate parts which need close monitoring and urgent attention are those boils in the middle of the face, near the spine, on the groin or genitals, as they could be life-threatening.

Tea tree oil's anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties make it a good home treatment for skin conditions.(Photo Credit: )
Tea tree oil’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties make it a good home treatment for skin conditions. (Photo Credit: )

How to Treat Boils at Home

The following enumerate options for home treatment for early sprouting boils, but it is advised to consult your doctor immediately  if you are beginning to experience serious symptoms.

      *  Application of sanitized cloth soaked in warm salt water at least 3-4 times a day encourages early draining of boils.

*  Careful cleansing of the boil with warm water and then applying antibiotic cream or antiseptic tea tree oil will promote faster healing.  Cover with bandage to prevent the abscess from catching dirt; make sure to change bandages frequently and dispose used ones responsibly.

      *  Garlic and Onions treatment:  You may try applying onion juice or garlic juice  externally to ripen boils and make them throw the pus out.  Mixing both juices in equal ratio can also bring beneficial outcomes.

Turmeric treatment: Roast dry roots of turmeric and then dissolve the ashes in one cup of water.  carefully apply on the affected areas to encourage the boils to ripen and burst soon.  Turmeric powder is suggested next to speed up the healing.

Bitter Gourd treatment :  it is also said to be  an efficacious home remedy for blood-filled boils. Mix one  cup of fresh bitter gourd juice with 1 teaspoon of lime juice;  to be slowly sipped  everyday for a few days while on an empty stomach .

Betel Leaves treatment :  Gently warm a betel leaf till it softens and then rub castor oil on both sides of the leaf.  Place the  leaf over the inflamed boil and make sure to replace it after  every few hours. It speeds up  rupture and draining.

Milk cream treatment: This helps in ripening the boils and in the healing process, too.  Mixing one teaspoon of milk cream, one teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of turmeric powder makes one beneficial poultice.

*  Parsley Treatment:  Soak parsley in boiled water until soft and juicy. Then wrap in a clean linen cloth while still quite hot and apply it on the boils.

Cumin seeds treatment:  Grind cumin seeds in water to make a paste, ready to be applied over boils for favorable results.

Margosa leaves treatment: Boil more or less 15 gms of margosa leaves in 500 ml water until it evaporates, leaving around 1/3.  This may be used as a liniment, a poultice or a bouillon.

*  Practice proper hygiene to prevent spreading of infection to other body parts or other family members.  Use antibacterial soap for thorough washing.

*  If boils keep recurring, use antibacterial soap or cleanser which contains triclosan, chlorhexidine or triclocarban to suppress the staph bacteria on the skin.

*  Never squeeze or lance boils without professional help to avoid spread of the infection. Make sure to wash used towels and sheets in very hot water.

Prevention:  Boils shouldn’t really make our blood boil with irritation and frustration if only we will practice better hygiene, have proper diet and a healthy lifestyle.  Working towards having high resistance to germs and viruses will make us less prone to boils, abscess and carbuncles!

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