Home remedies for boils

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Boils have been a problem since time immemorial. These painful and unattractive bumps even got a mention in the Bible when God used them as one of the 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh to let free the Israelites. Boils are pus-filled lumps that appear on the skin.

A bacterial germ, staphylococci commonly referred to as a staph infection that is usually found in some body regions such as the nose and the skin, causes them. The bacterium is not harmful, however, poor hygiene and immunity can lead to contracting the infection. They can also be transferred through cuts and grazes.

Boils have been a problem since time immemorial. these painful and unattractive bumps even got a mention in the bible when God used them as one of the 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh to let free the Israelites. Boils are pus-filled lumps that appear on the skin. A bacterial germ, staphylococci commonly referred to as a staph infection that is usually found in some body regions such as the nose and the skin, causes them.

The bacterium is not harmful, however, poor hygiene and immunity can lead to contracting the infection. They can also be transferred through cuts and grazes.

Boils start in the hair follicle, eventually leading to pus-filled swellings. They normally appear, but are not limited to, areas where the skin is prone to friction. The culprit skin surfaces include the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. There are different types of boils depending on where they occur and how they manifest and these include:

Styes

A stye develops when an oil gland at the edge of an eyelid becomes infected. Resembling a pimple on the eyelid, a stye can grow on the inside or outside of the eyelid. The pimple is also accompanied by swelling, tearing and crusting. Several things such as touching one’s eyes with unwashed hands can exacerbate the condition. A condition called blepharitis, characterised by chronic inflammation along the edge of the eyelid and indicate of underlying conditions such as rosacea, can cause a sty to form as well.

Carbuncles

They are a collection of boils that appear under the skin and are deeper than normal boils. They are more common in older people especially those with diabetes, poor nutrition and immune systems. It usually has one or more openings draining pus onto the skin.

Intraoral dental sinus or gumboils

They appear on the gum and may be a side effect from ill-fitting dentures, braces or prescription medicine.

Furuncles

These are regular boils that appear on any part of the body.

Treatment

Apply a warm washcloth to the boil for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. The heat will draw the pus to the surface of the boil, making it break open and drain more quickly than it would on its own. Once the boil drains, wash the affected area with a clean cloth or cotton ball and some warm water to keep the infected pus from spreading. Any swelling should disappear within a week. Note that most styes are harmless to your eye and won’t affect your ability to see clearly.

Onions also offer a good home remedy for boils. It not only contains antiseptic chemicals, but also acts as an antimicrobial and irritant to draw blood and “heat” to the boil. Place a thick slice of onion over the boil. Cover the area with a cloth, towel or cotton wool. Change the dressing every three to four hours until the boil comes to a head and drains.

Eggs were used for treating boils in the 19th century. After boiling and peeling an egg, wet the white and apply it directly to the boil. Cover with a cloth.

Thereafter, try to observe maximum hygiene. However, you should contact a doctor in the event of carbuncles, if the condition does not improve after 48 hours, if the swelling spreads to other parts of the body such as the cheek and other parts of your face, if you develop a fever or if the boils keep recurring. These could be indicative of a poor immune system and the doctor can recommend an antibiotic, surgery to relieve pressure in severe cases or an integrated health regime in the case of poor immunity or further underlying conditions.

Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t try to pop or squeeze pus from a boil. Taking matters into your own hands can cause the infection to spread. Instead, give the boil time to come a head and break on its own.

Do be sure to wash any clothes or towels that have come into contact with the boil to avoid spreading the infection.

Don’t buy over-the-counter products that claim to draw out the fluid in boils. These just irritate the boil and cause it to burst prematurely.

Published in February 2015

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