A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. At first, the skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops. After 4-7 days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin. Individual boils can cluster together and form an interconnected network of boils called carbuncles. In severe cases, boils may develop to form abscesses. Generally the boils appear on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. If several boils appear in a group, this is a more serious type of infection called a carbuncle.
There are several different types of boils. Among these are: Furuncle or carbuncle: This is an abscess in the skin caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. A furuncle can have one or more openings onto the skin and may be associated with a fever or chills. Cystic acne: This is a type of abscess that is formed when oil ducts become clogged and infected. It is most common on the face and typically occurs in the teenage years. Hidradenitis suppurativa: This is a condition in which there are multiple abscesses that form under the arm pits and often in the groin area. These areas are a result of local inflammation of the sweat glands. Pilonidal cyst: This is a unique kind of abscess that occurs in the crease of the buttocks. These frequently form after long trips that involve prolonged sitting.
There are many causes of boils. Some boils can be caused by an ingrown hair. Others can form as the result of a splinter or other foreign material that has become lodged in the skin. Boils are generally caused by an infection of the hair follicles by Staphylococcus aureus or staphylococcus epidermidis, a strain of bacteria that normally lives on the skin surface. It is thought that a tiny cut of the skin allows this bacterium to enter the follicles and cause an infection. This can happen during bathing or while using a razor. Hidradenitis suppurativa causes frequent boils. Boils in the armpits can sometimes be caused by anti-perspirant deodorants.
Though anyone can develop boils or carbuncles, these health problems make people more susceptible to skin infections:
Problems with the immune system
Exposure to harsh chemicals that irritate the skin
There are some measures to prevent boils from forming. The regular use of antibacterial soaps can help to prevent bacteria from building up on the skin. Carefully wash clothes, bed linen, and towels of a family member who is infected with boils. Clean and treat minor skin wounds. Practice good personal hygiene. Stay as healthy as possible.
The following measures may help the infection heal more quickly and prevent it from spreading:Apply a warm washcloth or compress to the affected area. Do this for at least 10 minutes every few hours. If possible, first soak the cloth or compress in warm salt water. This helps the boil rupture and drain more quickly. Gently wash the boil two to three times a day. After washing, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic and cover with a bandage. Never squeeze or lance a boil. This can spread the infection. Wash the hands thoroughly after treating a boil. Always launder clothing, towels or compresses that have touched the infected area.
Doctors usually diagnose a boil simply by looking at the skin, but sometimes they take a sample of pus to check for the bacteria it contains. If the patient has recurring infections, he may be tested for diabetes or other illnesses that weaken the immune system.
The primary treatment for most boils is heat application, usually with hot soaks or hot packs. Antibiotics are often used to eliminate the accompanying bacterial infection. For recurring cases, sufferers may benefit from diet supplements of Vitamin A and E.In serious cases oral antibiotics such as dicloxacillin (Dynapen) or cephalexin (Keflex) are commonly prescribed. For patients allergic to penicillin-based drugs, erythromycin (E-base, Erycin) may also be used. Magnesium sulfate paste applied to the affected area can prevent the growth of bacteria and reduce boils by absorbing pus and drying up the lesion.
Other Boils treatments:
A warm-water enema should be given daily to cleanse the bowels. Warm moist compresses should be applied three or four times a day over the tender area. This will help to bring the boil to a head and encourage easy drainage.
Hot Epsom salts bath
A hot Epsom salts bath is highly beneficial and should be taken by the patient two or three times in a week until the boils persist and once a week thereafter. Other helpful measures in the treatment of boils are daily dry massage in the morning followed by a cold sponge.
Fresh air, breathing exercises, and outdoor exercises are also essential for toning up the system. Avoid constipation.
A thorough cleansing of the system is essential for the treatment of boils. To begin with, the patient may fast on orange juice diluted with water. Then he should adopt a well-balanced diet, with emphasis on wholegrain cereals, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits. The patient should avoid tea and coffee, starchy and sugary foods, especially cakes, pastries, sweets, chocolates, white sugar, and white bread. He should also avoid all condiments, pickles, and sauces.
Iodine - To prevent the boil from further development, apply iodine on the area on and around the boil at least 3 times a day. This will also prevent the boil from further infection.
On boiling water, put a piece of regular bread. Remove it when it is soft. Apply it to the boil on a temperature tolerable to the skin. This will bring out the head of the boil faster.
Carrot and wheat germ
On a 1 tbsp of wheat germ oil, mix a grated raw carrot and apply it on the affected area.
There are several ways to prepare honey as a home remedy for boil.
· Mix honey with oil.
· Soak fresh figs in honey.
· Combine wheat germ and honey.
· Apply plain warm honey.
· Apply one of these on the affected area and the boil will come to its head.
· Honey can also be mixed with equal amount of fresh cod liver oil, orange juice, and fresh lemon juice. Take at least a tablespoon of it three times a day.
Milk cream is beneficial in the treatment of boils. One teaspoon of milk cream, mixed with half a tea spoon of vinegar, and a pinch of turmeric powder, makes an excellent poultice. It helps in ripening the blood boils and in their healing without allowing them to become septic.
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