What is a boil? The simplest definition of a boil is that it is a pimple that has become infected and grown deep beneath the skin; a skin infection gone underground. When an area becomes infected, an abscess of white blood cells, otherwise known as pus, develops. The technical term for a boil is furuncle.
Signs and Symptoms
Often, people will think that the pus is the infection of the boil when actually, these white blood cells are there to fight it.
Boils redden the surrounding skin, causing tenderness that can be quite painful. Often, they are felt as hard, round, sore, sub-dermal objects.
Causes of Boils
Some boils are the result of fungal infections while others are caused by bacterial infections. Heredity can factor into one’s susceptibility to get boils. Diabetes, poor diet, and medicines such as corticosteroids, can weaken immune systems to the point that infections are hard to fight. Most people will experience at least one type of boil at some point during their life.
Staphylococcus Aureus Infection
These days, we hear a lot about Staph infections. The bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus is highly communicable. This can be picked up through an opening in the skin by anyone, virtually anywhere.
Not only will the infection become abscessed and painful if infected with staph, but fever and chills are also associated with it.
As mentioned above, a lone abscess boil that includes a single hair follicle is called a furuncle. When several furuncles combine, they turn into a carbuncle.
Types of Boils
There are different types of boils. The most common type of boil is Cystic acne. Cystic acne occurs when oil ducts become clogged and then infected. There are many products on the market that claim to help this type of boil. Their goals are to clean the skin and keep the oil glands from becoming clogged.
The purpose of deep cleansers which use heated water to soak the skin is double fold. First, the pores are opened up through the heat, and then they are thoroughly cleansed, and closed. The way to contract the pores after cleansing is to apply cold water splashes and astringents. Try the NutriBiotic, Sodium Ascorbate, Crystalline Powder, 16 oz (454 g)
Common areas for boils are arm pits, groins, and buttocks. With the arm pits, the sweat glands can become opened up due to shaving, or the friction of clothing against the skin as one perspires, causing infection. This type of boil is called Hidradenitis suppurativa. Related to this particular cyst is the Pilonidal cyst. Pilonidal cysts occur within the indentation of one’s buttocks, and seem to be caused by sitting for prolonged periods of time.
The frequent method of bringing a boil to the skins surface is to apply heat. The quickest way to bring the boil to the surface is to combine heat with a poultice that will help draw out the infection. This is the best natural cure for boils.
In treating boils, the goal is to draw the infection out out by softening up the hard pus ball so that the cause of the infection, and the army of white blood cells there to battle it, can rise upward through the skin to allow proper lancing and drainage.
How to Treat Boils
Various tried and true ingredients can make up the poultice for boils. You may use these DIY home remedies for boils:
- Baking Soda is known for drawing out the poisons of bee stings. It can be applied topically with a heat pack applied over it.
- Warm Castor oil applied directly to the infected area has been used successfully throughout many generations.
- The common (uncooked) potato can be mashed and applied. Many pioneers used the potato for this purpose.
- Applying honey to withdraw and keep infections at bay has been practiced for many years.
- Heat-soaking the area in dissolved Epsom salts is also an old-time favorite.
- Some herbal poultice ingredients known for drawing out the infection are: Plantain, otherwise known as ribwort; bedstraw, otherwise known as cleavers; skunk cabbage, calendula, and certain types of moss.
Lancing the Boil
Once a boil has softened and surfaced, which can take days, it may be necessary to lance it so it can drain. This can be done in a doctor’s office. The procedure is the same whoever performs it though. Basically, some sharp sterilized instrument slices the boil open. It does not have to be opened much – just slightly.
Once lanced, the wound must be watched carefully to rule out any secondary infection. It must also be cleaned and protected well. If herbs were used as a poultice, the water they were steeped in can be strained through a jelly bag and reused for frequent soakings. You do not want any herbal residue, like tiny particles of leaf, irritating the wound.
Bandaging and Healing
Ointments, or salves, made with the herbs mentioned above can also be carefully applied before bandaging. Raw, unrefined Shea butter and/or cocoa butter mixed with avocado oil makes a very simple salve base. Maria Treben’s book, Health Through God’s Pharmacy, is just one of many that can guide the self-sufficient into how to use, make, and apply herbal remedies. A good ointment will allow the wound to drain while penetrating the skin. This helps the healing process and keeps further infection away.
Because the open-wound area and its discharge of infectious pus must be allowed to drain, it is important to apply a sterile gauze-type wrap. The gauze will allow the wound to breath and also soak up the drainage. It is important to allow the wound to breath so that the draining contaminants do not have an opportunity to multiply within the moist atmosphere of the bandaged area.
Boils can take weeks and sometimes longer to heal properly.
Good nutrition and lots of water, along with multiple daily treatments, will accelerate the healing process and prevent further boils from occurring.