How to Treat a Boil


Before moving on to how to treat a boil, let us first understand what a boil is, types, symptoms and causes of boils.

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So what is a boil? A boil is an infection in the skin that starts at the oil glands or simply the hair follicles. This infected skin generally begins with a reddened area which then later develops into tender lumps. After a few days, the center of these lumps will be filled with pus. When the infection spreads deeper into the tissues, it is then called abscess.

Types of Boils

Boils usually appear on the neck, face, armpits, buttocks, and shoulders. When the lump builds on the eyelid, then it would be called a stye. How to treat a boil will depend on the type, and here are the different forms of boils.

• Furuncle – is a type of boil that is caused by a bacterium called staphylococcus aureus. This usually occurs within the hair follicles and comes with fevers or chills.

• Cystic acne – is formed when the oil ducts get clogged and get infected. This usually affects the deeper tissues as compared to the common acne and is more common on the face during the teenage years.

• Hidradenitis suppurativa – this condition usually occurs in the armpit and groin area and is composed of multiple boils which resulted from inflammation of the sweat glands. More often than not, this type of skin infection cannot be treated with antibiotic alone and may only be resolved with surgery.

• Pilonidal cyst – this is a unique type of boil and usually occurs at the buttocks area. The infection usually begins in tiny areas which, over time, may enlarge into firm and painful nodules which give patients difficulty while sitting down. They are usually formed after a long trip or prolonged sitting.

Signs and Symptoms of boils

Boils begin with redness or swelling, then eventually builds yellowish or white pus at the center. An average size of a boil is usually from 1-5 cm and they are painful. Some patients may experience itching on the area before it develops and the pus discharges may emit foul smell due to the bacteria present. In severe infection from multiple boils, the patient may experience swollen nodes with fever.

Causes of boil

Boils are usually caused by infection brought by the staphylococcus bacteria. These bacteria enter the body through cuts or tiny nicks and then travel into the hair follicles. Once inoculated, boils will develop and may run their course for about ten days.

Though people infected with boils are mostly healthy, some other causes can be related to immune system disorder, malnutrition, diabetes, poor hygienic practices and anemia. Other causes include ingrown hair, plugged sweat glands or sometimes using of deodorant, and harsh chemicals that irritate the skin.

Further complications may occur depending on how you treat a boil and a possibility of re-infection or worsening might ensue when the right treatment is not given.

How to Treat a Boil

When a boil doesn’t show any signs of severity like extreme pain, or does not drain on its own, and a second boil is present, then methods on how to treat a boil can easily be done at home. However it is still best to seek medical attention.

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Home Remedies for How to Treat a Boil

Home therapies are advisable for small boils and here are some tips on how to treat a boil at the comfort of your own home:

• Applying warm compress or directly soaking the boil in warm water can help decrease the pain and draw the pus out to the surface. After several soaking, the boil will burst within a period of seven days from its first appearance. When the boil starts to drain, wash the area with an antibacterial soap and apply ointment and bandage. This is to secure the infected area from being re-infected. Continue washing the area at least three times a day until the wound completely heals.

• Using garlic and onion juice and directly applying it to the infected area can help ripen the boil and break the pus.

• Applying turmeric powder on the infected area may help speed up the healing process. For fresh boils, roasting dry roots of the turmeric is helpful to ripen and then burst the boil.

• Cumin seeds when combined with water to form a paste-like mixture have beneficial results when applied to the infected area.

• Margosa leaves when used as liniment, poultice, and decoction are proven to have effective results as well.

These are simple methods on how to treat a boil. Puncturing the boil with a needle or anything sharp should be avoided for it may lead to worsening or other complications. Remember that pus is composed of bacteria and popping the boil may risk spreading the bacteria to nearby areas.

Medical Treatment for boils

When boils are slightly larger than usual, medical treatments are advisable. Health care centers have all the right equipment to assist in draining off the pus which may contain several pockets of pus that should be opened and drained as well. These treatments are advised with antibiotic medicines or cream to eliminate any underlying infection surrounding the skin. And as for patients with recurring cases, malnutrition might be a possible reason, so physicians might prescribe diet supplements rich in vitamins A and E which might prove beneficial.

Prevent boil

Knowledge on how to treat a boil from its first appearance is helpful to prevent it from getting more severe. But it’s most essential to keep proper hygienic practices and clean and treat even the minor types of skin wounds. Remember that bacteria enter the body through cuts so keep them clean and wash your hands at all times. Eating a well balanced diet is also important to keep your immune system healthy to help fight all bacteria that enter the body. Meanwhile, bed linens, clothes and towels belonging to the person infected with boils should be washed and cleaned thoroughly to avoid contamination and infection to others.

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