Boils also known as skin abscesses are tender, painful, pus-filled bump(s) under the skin as a result of an infection in our hair follicle that can spread to the surrounding skin.
Sweaty and hairy areas of the body such as the face, underarms, pelvic area, thigh, buttocks, and neck. These are the most common places on the body for boils to appear.
As your body trie to fight the infection, it will fill the boil with pus and a head/white or yellow tip will eventually form. This tip will allow the pus to drain out of your body and eventually heal the infection.
Signs of a boil
Boils can be as small as a pinhead or as big as a golf ball depending on their stage of infection. To identify a boil, it has the following features:
- Redness or discoloration on the surrounding skin
- Swelling and tenderness on the infected area
- The skin area feels warm, lumpy or hard
- It is painful and oozes some liquid or pus
- A yellow or white tip of the boil can be seen once matured
These are the main signs that are used to identify a boil. Sometimes it can also include fever, fatigue, or feeling unwell.
When we are not so lucky, we can end up with not just one boil but a collection of several interconnected boils under the skin in one place which are extremely painful.
In this case, it is called a carbuncle and they are commonly found on the neck and the back. This type of boil develops much deeper in the skin than a common boil and it also takes longer to heal.
Causes of a boil
It is known that most boils are caused by a bacterial infection of Staphylococcus aureus that entered the hair follicle probably through a cut, bruise, or any breaking of the skin.
Another less common type of boil is caused by other conditions such as diabetes, poor nutrition, weak immunity, and acne as a result of clogged pores of the skin especially the face and back.
Shaving is one of the most common methods that allow for boils to develop easily because we often nick ourselves with the blade unknowingly.
It is good to find good methods of shaving safely without breaking skin. This can help prevent the constant development of boils in your body.
Another common cause is friction from tight clothing. It pushes the bacteria living on our skin to slip under the skin thus infecting the hair follicles.
How to care for boils
An infected person and those around them need to be careful in treating this infection because it can be spread easily through broken skin on another person.
This happens through skin-to-skin contact or contaminated objects that have been touched by the boil or its pus.
To be honest, we do not always know where our skin has broken because it can be as simple as a scratch or as deep as a cut. This is why it is just good practice to be careful.
It is important to remember to not share personal items with the patient e.g. towels, clothes, beddings, etc., avoid touching the boil, and wash your hands frequently throughout the day when you have a boil.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you have a boil is to force the pus out by prematurely poking it with a needle or pin and squeezing all the liquid.
This can further infect the boil making it to double or triple in size, scar, and increase your pain and infection. Never do this!
Instead, use one of the natural remedies listed below to make it disappear or mature fast and empty out the liquid pus by itself which will make it heal completely.
It goes without saying that as an infection, you need to keep the area clean at all times. Wash it gently with soap and water then apply an antibiotic oil such as
Don’t forget to maintain good personal hygiene by washing your hand regularly, washing your linens properly, etc.
Natural Remedies for boils
The most common remedy for boils is the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics but because of their harm to our body and their tendency to make infections resistant to them over time, I often opt for natural remedies available in Nigeria and are also found in west Africa. They include:
Senna coffee Herb
Scientific Name: Cassia occidentalis
Cassia Occidentalis is a very common herb that is in many countries, considered to be invasive. Native to America, it grows as a weed in many parts of the world such as West Africa, India, Hawaii, the USA, India, China, Jamaica, etc. It has numerous names such as septic weed, coffee senna, coffee weed, Negro coffee, kasoundi in Hindi,
This herb is often known to be a weed because it grows almost everywhere by the roadside, wet areas, in the bush, etc.
All parts of the plant are used for medicinal uses. The most common use of the coffee senna is that it is used as a substitute for coffee beans, laxative, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, etc.
For physical application
- Pound/blend/squeeze a handful of the washed and cleaned fresh leaves of this herb with as little water as possible.
- Apply directly on the boil and leave it for at-least 1 hour. Ideally, apply it overnight for maximum effect.
For oral use:
- Boil a handful of the fresh leaves and take the water exract twice a day. Morning and evening after meals. One handful should be enough for the day. Take for about 7 days to stop the boil from coming back.
- This remedy is not advised for pregnant women because some parts of the coffee senna plant can harm the baby.
You will need to do both oral and physical application methods to properly treat the boil completely. This is very effective as I was told though from those that used the herb. I have not used it yet myself. If you end up using it, let me know if it helped you in the comments below.
This is a well-known effective home remedy for boils and you have probably heard of it. It is often the main advice you will find on medical sites like Healthline on WebMD.
A warm clean towel or cotton cloth is used to make the boil to draw the pus to the surface of the skin faster. Once the boil bursts and drains from the boil, it can then begin to heal.
The towel can be soaked in very warm water (not hot water just warm enough that you can touch it without burning your hands) and wrung well before being folded and gently placed on the boil.
Some recommend for very gentle pressure to be applied on the boil with your hand (without puncturing the boil) and then you rinse the cloth again in almost hot water once cooled and repeat placing it on the boil.
You can do this at least twice a day with each session lasting 10-20 minutes until the boil bursts.
Once the boil has formed a head, it will burst by itself so far you continue applying the warm compress.
Once it bursts, wash the area with an anti-bacterial soap or just plain soap and apply an anti-bacterial oil to it e.g garlic oil, ginger oil, etc.
It usually heals within 2-7 days once it has busted.
To make sure the boil is completely healed, you might need to take an antibiotic suitable for boils. But that is usually if the boil becomes aggravated or keeps appearing in different parts of your body.
Remember, never pop the boil as I said earlier. Let it burst by itself.
What type of boil suit these remedies
These few but effective remedies described here are suitable for most boils that appear in the underarms, groin area, buttocks, legs, arm, etc.
These remedies though few, are what I am confident will work for your boil. If the boils are a carbuncle (Numerous beyond just one) Then I will advise that you see a doctor soonest because by then, an antibiotic will be necessary for you.
Why do I keep getting boils
Just remember that when you have recurring boils within few weeks to 2 months of one another, then you will need to get see a doctor and get an antibiotic prescription that will permanently cure the boils.
This is because the infection has not completely healed in your body the first time. That is why it is appearing in other places on your body.
When to see a doctor
Boils are not dangerous to our health. However, when it is not getting better despite trying home remedies especially the warm compress, it becomes a reoccurring boil, an abnormally large boil, or when it is located at a vulnerable part of the body e.g. spine, face then, it is time to go see a doctor for further help.
Most of the time, boils can be treated at home without medical intervention.
If you are unable to get the coffee senna herb, it is ok. In most cases, the warm compress will solve the problem for you.
Prevention is better than cure as they say which is why maintaining good hygiene, treating minor cuts from shaving and other daily activities, careful washing of the clothes of someone with boils to prevent the spread of infection is good practice.
These can go a long way in preventing boils from developing in your body.
Boils can take any time from a few days to 2 weeks to heal properly. You need to be patient with it despite the pain and discomfort.
Remember to wash your hands and the cloth used for the compress (if using) properly to prevent the spread of the infection to other people or other places in the body.
The remedies I mentioned can are commonly available and I am confident of their effectiveness. I will not be mentioning the home remedies recommended on the web because I have never used them .
Do try these remedies and let me know if they worked for you in the comments below. I hope you get well soon if you are battling this infection
Please let me know if you found this post helpful.
Thank you for stopping by and have a nice day.