Healing Solutions: Effective Strategies to Treat Boils and Promote Skin Wellness

Healing Solutions: Effective Strategies to Treat Boils and Promote Skin Wellness

Boils not only look ugly, but they hurt, too. The purulent infections develop on hair follicles – often in particularly pubic areas such as the buttocks or the intimate area, but soft tissue infections can also occur on the face and other parts of the body. What ointments and home remedies can you use to treat a boil? Why not squeeze it? What is to be done if a boil has burst?

What is a boil?

Sparkles are purulent lumps, one to two centimetres in diameter, that occur spontaneously individually or in clusters and can appear anywhere there is hair on the skin. In a boil, the hair follicle (hair follicle) and surrounding tissue become painfully inflamed.

Boils most commonly appear on the face, neck and armpits, as well as on the breasts, buttocks, anus, pubic area (also directly on the vagina), groin and thighs (usually on the inside of the thighs). But there are also boils in the ear and on the nose, on the scalp, on the lip, on the fingers or the back.

Various terms are used for differentiation in connection with the purulent inflammation of the hair follicle. Inflammation of the hair follicle that does not affect the surrounding tissue is called folliculitis. It is the preliminary stage of the furuncle – only when it develops into an abscess is it called a furuncle. Abscesses are pockets of pus that can appear anywhere on the body, not just a hair follicle. Furuncles are thus a subspecies of abscesses. If several boils combine to form a large boil, it is called a carbuncle.


Causes: How a boil develops

A boil occurs when bacteria, mainly Staphylococcus aureus (a type of staphylococcus), from the skin or nose and throat can penetrate the skin through tiny skin injuries – especially when the immune system is weakened. The pathogens then migrate downwards along a hair follicle or the sweat glands and infect the hair follicle.

The inflammation quickly spreads to the tissues around the hair follicle. Tissue cells are destroyed, immune cells rush in, and pus forms from the dead cell parts and bacteria. In addition, a kind of capsule forms around the intruders so that the bacteria cannot get any further into the body, but the wound secretion cannot drain off either.

Furuncles: triggers and risk factors

A weakened immune system makes people more susceptible to boils, but other triggers exist. Factors that favour the formation of a furuncle are:

  • an unrecognized or insufficiently controlled diabetes mellitus
  • chronic infections or diseases, for example, skin diseases
  • cellular immunodeficiencies such as leukopenia
  • clothing that is too tight and rubs against the skin
  • insufficient disinfection after shaving or depilation


Recognize symptoms of a boil.

At first glance, boils look like big pimples, but in contrast, they are usually more painful and located in the skin’s deeper layers. Typical signs of a boil are:

  • a significant swelling or a tight lump under the skin
  • redness
  • overheat
  • pain in the area (especially with pressure)
  • sometimes, light or yellowish pus is visible under the skin
  • sometimes, if you look closely, you can see a hair in the centre of the swelling
  • in the case of a carbuncle, fever and fatigue can also be the result of the inflammation

Skin infections can develop within a few hours or days. They begin as small bumps with a superficial inflammation of the hair follicle, i.e. folliculitis, and then grow into pressure-sensitive nodules.

diagnosis of a boil

Based on the typical symptoms, Doctors usually recognize a furuncle with the naked eye. In exceptional cases, pus swabs can help determine the pathogen – for example, to select suitable antibiotics for treatment. In addition, blood tests can provide information about the extent of the inflammation but are usually not required to make the diagnosis.

Treatment: What can you do about a boil?

Sometimes, after a few days, the pus can break through the skin’s surface and drain. Complaints such as pain and pressure usually subside immediately after the furuncle bursts open and bleeds and pus emerges. It will heal on its own after a few weeks. A small indented scar may remain.

Specific home remedies and ointments can support this maturation. But which means are suitable to treat a boil?

In the initial phase of the still “immature” furuncle without pus plugs, a vasodilating ointment can be helpful, i.e. an ointment with the active ingredient ammonium bituminosulphate from the pharmacy. Warm, moist (antiseptic) compresses and exposure to red light can also help accelerate the development of the furuncle. Furthermore, marigold tincture and tea tree oil are home remedies for closed boils. In addition, the daily use of antiseptic ointments or washing lotions to reduce germs is recommended. Zinc ointment also disinfects and can be used as a support.

Sometimes, a boil can heal without bursting – the body eliminates the pus.


Furuncle burst – what to do?

If a boil has burst and blood and pus come out, wiping away the secretion and carefully applying a disinfecting ointment is advisable. Rinsing with a saline solution from the pharmacy can clean the wound cavity.

In addition, you should pay attention to thorough hygiene so the bacteria do not trigger a new infection. It is best to cover the skin area with a plaster. In the case of deep boils, however, there is a risk that the actual focus of inflammation is not eliminated. Then, relatively soon, furuncles will form again.

Medical treatment

Seek medical advice for carbuncles or if a boil is enormous, painful, or will not burst on its own. Medical treatment can accelerate maturation, reduce pain, and, at the same time, prevent complications from developing. For example, pain and anti-inflammatory ointments (e.g. with cortisone ) can be prescribed.

As a rule, the doctor will incise a mature boil with a scalpel under (usually local) anaesthesia to prevent the bacteria from penetrating further into the surrounding tissue by relieving pressure. The wound is then disinfected or rinsed and left open (i.e. not sewn up) with the help of drainage (e.g. made of strips of fabric that have to be changed daily) until it has healed so that wound secretion can drain off and furuncle does not form again. A plaster or bandage covers the wound and should be changed daily.

An antibiotic is also prescribed in rare cases or if there are complications.

Therapy: What not to do!

This is taboo when treating boils: squeezing, piercing or scratching the boil.

If you do press and the pus pimple is not yet fully ripe, the furuncle may burst inwards. In the worst case, this can lead to inflammation of the lymphatic system (recognizable by a red stripe) or, in sporadic cases, to blood poisoning (sepsis). Dangerous infections or the formation of so-called fistulas are also possible.

It would help if you never touched a boil with unwashed fingers to avoid complications. Under no circumstances should you use products in the intimate area that are not suitable for the intimate area.


Why boils can be dangerous

If several adjacent boils unite, a carbuncle is formed. A larger area of ​​skin is then affected, and the focus of pus is often located in even deeper layers of tissue.

In extreme cases, the lymph channels in the skin can become inflamed (lymphangitis), and the lymph nodes swell. There is also a (minimal) risk that the causative bacteria will enter the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning.

For the danger of a furuncle, knowing where it forms on the body’s surface is essential. If a furuncle occurs on the face, this is particularly dangerous – especially in ​​the triangle between the eyes, around the nose and upper lip. There is a risk that pathogens can lead to cerebral vein thrombosis or meningitis via the venous bloodstream. Therefore, immobilization with bed rest is recommended for larger furuncles on the face. Those affected should not speak if possible and only eat pureed food.

Furunculosis: recurrent boils

Boils can occur repeatedly, especially in people with a weakened immune system. In the case of such so-called furunculosis, it can make sense to remove the focus of inflammation and previous scar tissue surgically. In the case of furunculosis or after the surgical removal of a deeper-lying abscess, a type of vaccination with the pathogens detectable in the pus can be carried out in addition to the conventional therapy to better arm the immune system (autovaccine). In addition, any underlying diseases that can promote the occurrence of boils should be treated.

Good hygiene is also important when treating a boil to prevent skin infections from returning:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap after touching the furuncle because the pathogens are contagious.
  • It is advisable not to bathe but to take a shower to prevent transmission to other areas of the skin.
  • Towels and bed linen should be washed at high temperatures.
  • If you sweat quickly and often, you should wear airy clothing, as heavy sweating also promotes the development of boils – just like dry skin.
  • Tight-fitting clothing or rubbing skin can also result in boils.



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