A boil or skin abscess occurs due to a number of reasons. By and large, boils are the outcome of localized infections caused by the bacteria named staphylococcus aurous. The bacteria enter the skin through minor cuts on the skin and accumulate in the hair follicles. There they multiply and cause infections. These skin infections begin with the infected area turning red and itchy. Later in pus forms in the boils.
If the boils are mild, then one need not seek medical treatment. Certain boils get treated naturally and subside after some time provided they are not pinched, squeezed or pressed in an attempt to cure them.
The pus filled boils are completely healed once they get lanced or drained. But for this a head or pustule needs to be formed on them. Without a head, draining a boil would not be of much use. It is only after the boil matures and becomes soft with pus that it can be cleaned.
In order to accelerate the ripening of the boil, a heat treatment is widely used as one of the boil cures. Cloth dipped in hot water is placed on the boils several times daily. This improves the blood circulation in the infected area. So, more white blood cells enter the infected region to eat up the bacteria. The white blood cells are sent to fight the infection as a natural defense mechanism of the body.
The heat treatment helps the boil in reaching a stage where it can be drained. Once the pus starts oozing out, that area should be washed with an anti-bacterial soap to prevent the spread of infection. A medical ointment should be applied over the boil. It should be given a warm compress and cleaned a few times more before it gets completely healed. One should abstain from using needles etc to prick the boil to avoid further complications.
If the boil is large and painful, it is advisable to have it lanced by a doctor. He will begin the minor surgery with numbing the boil area with a local anesthetic. Later on, an incision is made on the skin. The pus comes out by itself or it may be extracted with the help of a tube. The doctor usually prescribes some antibiotics in case of a severe infection along with a blood test.
Certain symptoms imply that the infection is severe or has spread into the blood stream. Hence, if one observes red lines emerging around the boil, swelling in the lymph glands, a fever and chills along with the boil or a prominent red line over the boil, then it requires an immediate medical check up for a timely treatment.
Certain boils occur in places such as the nose and the lips area, making them quite risky. A little carelessness such as biting the lips may spread the bacterial infection to the brain or the blood stream.
Besides the heat treatment there are a number of home based boil cures which are convenient and make use of certain herbs which are well known for their therapeutic and anti- bacterial properties.
Some of the popular boil cures are as follows:
1. A betel nut leaf is mildly heated and pure castor oil is smeared on its surface. The leaf is then placed over the boil and tied. After a few applications, the boil bursts open.
2. Honey, well known for its anti-bacterial properties is applied over the infected area for quick recovery. It can also be mixed with oil. Fresh figs are soaked in the honey also to cure the boils
3. A slice of bread is added to boiling water. Once it gets soft, it should be removed and applied on the boil after it cools down to some extent.
4. Iodine is used to prevent the boil from aggravating.
5. A lemon which has been cut into a half is also used as it is one of the effective boil cures.
Since boils are contagious, they need to be handled with care. In case someone in the family has been suffering from recurrent boils, then the towels, bed sheets etc used by that person should be kept clean.