Boils are very common skin infections usually caused by bacteria that inhabit the skin surface (Staphylococcus aureus). These bacteria infect hair follicles. Through this route bacteria will gain access into deeper skin tissue to set up deeper infection. In the worst cases they may even be able to affect the blood. A boil may look and feel like a firm swollen and tender area of redness. It can be quite small but as infection develops the boil may grow to the size of a golf ball. As white blood cells fight infection, pus will accumulate. This and localised swelling caused by inflammation will increase pain and a white or yellow “head” may develop in the boil. The impulse is to cut into the boil to reduce pain and release pus but this is likely to spread infection. Usually a doctor or nurse will lance the boil if it is in a narrow space such as an ear canal. A boil in the spinal area will also need to be addressed because of the low risk of spinal infection. A fever is also a cause for concern as this demonstrates deeper blood involvement; generally, however, an infection is mild and localised and a single boil or small number of boils may quickly resolve themselves. Keeping the skin clean and healthy is an obvious preventative measure. It really is wise to refrain from picking at the boil. Certainly hand washing is essential to prevent spread of bacteria to non-infected hair follicles. Treatment will depend upon whether the outbreak of boils is isolated or multiple; also whether there is evidence of toxicity and low immunity. A course of antibiotic treatment will usually only be prescribed for severe or multiple infections or if there is spinal involvement or a sign of spreading infection such as red marks tracking away from the boil.
oods & herbs for the home
- Sulphur-rich foods have an ability to assist innate blood cleaning abilities. Garlic, mustard greens, onion and watercress are all high in sulphur and these foods should be emphasised.
- Nettle tea is easily available; its high mineral content will help to support immune processes.
- Echinacea Tincture is renowned for its ability to strengthen immunity over the long term and is useful in recovery.
- Superfood Plus contains maximum quantities of minerals, vitamins, essential fats and trace elements in organic food form. This can be a wonderful tonic as you build up your resistance to infection.
- A quick and effective method to relieving pain and swelling is an onion poultice. Bake an onion in the oven and when soft cut it in half and tape a piece of the inside to the boil. Leave overnight and this will pull the pus to the surface. Repeated sessions should eventually drain the boil.
- Warm compresses can also be applied: Organic Chamomile Herbal Tea is soothing and anti-inflammatory when applied as a warm compress as well as used as a drink.
- An ointment containing blood-cleansing and drawing herbs could help enormously in between the onion drawing sessions. You can read about traditional home remedies in Jill Davies’ book that you can download for free: “Herbs, Natural Healing and Nutrition”.
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