Boils are common skin infections that typically occur in places with hair or where rubbing occurs. They are red, pus-filled sometimes painful bumps under your skin that often pop up in the most inopportune place. They generally grow larger until they are drained. To begin with, don’t pick or squeeze a boil. If it’s serious and is not drained properly by a doctor or medical professional, it could infect the nearby areas and push the infection deeper into the skin causing more boils. Here are some ways to deal with boils at home.
Causes and Risk Factors
Boils are caused by bacteria that infect and then inflame hair follicles. Other possible causes include ingrown hairs and clogged sweat glands.
Risk factors that may increase your chances of developing boils include
- Improper hygiene
- Having small cuts on the skin
- Having certain skin conditions such as acne or eczema
- Having an immune disorder or weakened immune system which makes you more vulnerable to bacterial infections
- Having close contact with someone who has had boils such as through sharing razors or towels
- Allergic reactions including allergic reactions to fabrics and laundry products
- Damaged hair follicles
- Excessive scratching with infected fingers and nails
- Excessive sweating can lead to an accumulation of dirt
- Infected lymph nodes
- Stress and overexertion
- Waxing or shaving
Home remedies & treatment
You can treat a boil at home without seeking medical attention but it’s important to remember not to pick at the boil or try to pop it yourself. The boil may drain on its own which is an important part of the healing process. Resist the impulse to speed things along by doing it yourself.
Because a boil is a skin infection you could pass it on to people. Once you find that you have one, don’t go swimming in public pools or gyms and don’t share any toiletries if you have been doing so.
1. Applying heat
This is the best home remedy to start with. Apply a warm compress to the area for about 20 minutes at a time, three or four times a day every day until the boil is gone. You can also soak a washcloth in hot water and press it gently against the boil for about 10-20 minutes and repeat that several times a day. The heat helps increase circulation in the area, bringing more white blood cells and antibodies to the area to fight the infection.
2. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties which can help treat the bacterial infection causing the boil. Tea tree oil however should not be applied directly to the skin because it can have a burning effect. Instead, mix five drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of either coconut oil or olive oil. Use a cotton swab to apply it to the boil two to three times a day, daily until the boil is completely gone.
3. Turmeric powder
Turmeric powder also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help heal a boil and get rid of it quickly. You can either ingest it or use it topically to treat boils. To ingest it, boil a teaspoon of turmeric powder in water or milk, allow it to cool then drink it. To use it topically, mix turmeric with water, ginger, or both to make a paste and apply the paste to the boil at least twice a day until the boil is completely gone.
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4. Epsom salt
Epsom is mainly used as a relaxing remedy but it can help treat boils too. The salt helps dry out the pus, causing the boil to drain. Dissolve Epsom salt in warm water and soak a compress in it. Apply the compress to the area for 20 minutes at a time. Do it at least three times a day until the boil is completely gone.
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5. Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment and pain reliever
For fast-acting and soothing action, you can opt for over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotic ointment. If you are in a lot of pain because of the boil, you can purchase an OTC pain reliever.
1. Keep it clean
As with any infection, it is important that you keep the area clean. Use antibacterial soap and warm water to wash the boil at least twice daily or you can use an antibacterial cream. Afterwards, pat the area dry and keep any towels you use during the time you have a boil separate from others.
2. Practice good hygiene
This is critical in treating a boil. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after touching the boil or surrounding area to prevent the spread of infection to other parts of your body.
3. Use a cover or bandage
To help it heal faster, try and keep it covered. After cleaning the boil and the area around it, apply a clean dressing to keep it covered and protected. A bandage or gauze will do.
4. Wash your beddings
To help lower the risk of further infection, wash your bedding, clothing, and towels at least once a week at high temperatures to kill the bacteria. Also, refrain from sharing towels with anyone.
Other remedies that are not medically proven but people swear work include using castor oil, neem oil, and onion rings. Castor oil has been used since ancient times to heal wounds and moisturize skin. Just apply castor oil directly to the boil three times a day until the boil is gone. Neem oil has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties that can treat skin infections. Apply some neem oil directly to the boil three or four times a day until the boil is gone. For onions, cut an onion into thick slices, wrap a slice in gauze and apply it to the boil for an hour. Do this twice daily until it clears up. If you do it too frequently though, you are likely to get a skin rash.
If the above methods are not working then you should go see a doctor.
Here’s hoping this helps. Get well soon.
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