Skin boils, also called skin abscesses, are deep skin infections which are localized to one specific spot. These infections can be painful and unsightly, but are not usually dangerous. Most people can treat skin boils at home with simple natural remedies, but people with certain health problems may need medical attention.
Skin boils can develop for a variety of reasons, all of which relate to the development of a localized infection in the skin. Boils may develop when a hair becomes ingrown in a follicle, or if the skin is broken by a splinter or other foreign object. Acne-related boils are caused by clogged, infected sweat glands. In all cases, the boils develop because bacteria have infected the deeper layers of the skin at one specific spot.
As a skin abscess develops, it goes through several stages. In the initial stage of infection the boil becomes red and tender to the touch, and then becomes harder as the infection proceeds. The boil softens again when tissue begins to break down, and it becomes filled with pus, a soft matter which is made up of immune cells, proteins, and bacteria. After several days, a white or yellow head begins to form on the boil, and at this point it may spontaneously break, allowing the fluid to drain. Most boils will begin to heal once this occurs.
There are several natural cures for skin boils that can safely be tried before visiting a doctor. It is important to understand, however, that natural remedies don’t always work, and sometimes a doctor’s visit is needed. Anyone trying to treat skin boils at home should monitor the abscesses carefully and be aware of symptoms that might indicate a worsening infection.
Natural remedies for skin abscesses are fairly simple. The best results are obtained when the boil is treated as soon as it appears. Applying heat to the boil is the most effective method of treatment, as this improves circulation to the area. This helps to bring infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells to the area. Heat can be applied with a hot towel, water bath, or other method. Care should be taken to keep the area clean and dry when not applying heat.
If the boil is getting larger, if pain is worsening, if fever develops, or if red streaks develop near the boil, it’s time to get medical attention. People with diabetes, a cardiac condition, or a suppressed immune system, should not try to treat boils at home. Instead they should seek medical attention immediately when a boil develops to prevent complications.