A boil, also known as an inflamed pimple or a furuncle, is a skin lesion. In some cases, they are also known as furuncles, Latin for “fist,” since these lesions often appear like clenched fists underneath the skin. Boils on skin can be triggered by several factors, including infection, exposure to heat, humid conditions, stress, or dirty clothing. The good news is skin boils are generally not severe and can be treated at home. This article will discuss common causes of boils on the skin with natural remedies.
Symptoms of Boils and Carbuncles
Skin boils usually have small red bumps that resemble pimples with yellow or white pus at the center. These small red bumps typically appear in clusters and cause significant pain when touched. Boils can occur anywhere on the body but are more likely to develop in areas of friction such as the armpits, groin, inner thighs, hairline, buttocks, and neck.
Boils that develop multiple heads are known as carbuncles. Carbuncles form when normal pimples get clogged with puss and bacteria and stay in one place for a long period of time. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that can cause a deeper and more severe infection. Compared with single boils, carbuncles are usually very painful and more likely to leave a scar.
Carbuncles can exist in various sizes, from pea-sized to golf ball-sized. They may develop rapidly. Your skin may itch before a boil’s appearance, and you might feel tired or sick afterward. If you have a fever or chills, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Who Is At Risk for Skin Boils?
Anyone can develop skin boils, but certain people are at a higher risk. Some factors that can increase your risk of developing boils include obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, radiation therapy, and certain types of surgery.
You can take measures to reduce your risk of developing skin boils by maintaining good skin hygiene. Stay away from synthetic fabrics and clean your clothing regularly.
You can also reduce your risk of skin boils by wearing loose clothing, avoiding excessive heat and humidity, using a good sunscreen, washing your hands regularly, and keeping your wounds clean.
Are Boils Contagious?
Bacterial infections like staph and strep that cause skin boils are contagious. If you notice a skin boil and there is a chance that you came into contact with bacteria that cause skin boils, you should not share the same clothes and towels with other people. You can transmit the infection to others, especially those who have cuts or wounds on their skin.
5 Common Causes of Boils on Skin
There are 5 common causes of skin boils, including:
1. Bacterial infection
Bacterial infection from bacteria is known as ‘Staphylococcus’ or ‘Aerobic Gram-Positive Cocci’. This is the most common cause of boils on the skin. When bacteria are trapped in the hair follicles, they can cause infection and inflammation of the skin, known as boils.
If you have cuts and scratches on your skin, the bacteria can enter your body through these open wounds and give rise to a skin boil. You can also get a skin boil from bacterial infections like staph or strep.
Eating a healthy diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep will help your body fight bacterial infections.
2. Wearing unclean clothing
Unclean clothing can increase the risk of skin boils. Clothes that have not been washed in a while, especially synthetic fabrics, can give rise to bacteria that can cause skin boils.
If you wear unclean clothes, you may develop skin boils in the areas where the fabric comes in direct contact with your skin. The area includes under your armpits, in your crotch, and around your waistline. Skin boils can also form on the beard area, where facial hair directly interacts with the skin.
3. Exposure to excessive heat or humidity
Exposure to excessive heat or humidity can cause bacterial infections on the skin, especially if you have cuts and wounds. If you live in a tropical climate or in a place where the weather is scorching, you are at greater risk of getting skin boils.
The warm and moist environment can give rise to bacteria that cause skin boils. They can also occur in areas with poor air circulation and humidity, like carpeted rooms or saunas.
4. Skin inflammation caused by allergic reactions or sunburn
Skin inflammation can be caused by an allergic reaction or a bacterial infection. If you have sensitive or dry skin, you are at a higher risk of skin inflammation.
In addition, you may get skin inflammation as a result of sunburn. This condition is also called photodermatitis or phototoxicity. It can occur when your skin comes into contact with ultraviolet light in a tanning booth, like sunlight or ultraviolet bulbs.
5. Skin injury or cuts that become infected
Skin injuries and cuts can lead to bacterial infections resulting in skin boils. If a wound in your skin becomes infected, the bacteria in the surrounding environment can enter the body through the cut. This can result in skin boils.
7 Home remedies for boils on the skin
You can use various home remedies to get rid of skin boils.
1. Apply Warm Compresses
The best way to treat boils on the skin is by applying warm compresses. Applying warm compresses can reduce the growth of bacteria.
Place the warm compress on the affected area for about 20 minutes and repeat this process every few hours until your boil heals. This will reduce the pain and swelling and speed up the healing process.
You can also make a warm compress by soaking a clean cloth in warm water and wringing it out. Ensure the water is not too hot or can cause a skin burn and worsen your condition.
2. Wash the boiler to keep it clean
Another way is keeping the affected area clean. Wash the boil with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser at least twice daily. Cleaning the boils will prevent bacteria from spreading and keep the skin clean.
This will reduce the pain and swelling. Make sure to dry the affected area with a clean towel after washing it. Avoid touching the boil, and keep the surrounding area clean as well. You should also wear loose clothing to prevent the bacteria from spreading.
3. Apply a boil plaster after it ruptures
After the boil ruptures, you can apply a boil plaster to prevent bacteria from spreading. Boils are contagious and can quickly spread. You can use an antibiotic ointment to treat the boil and prevent it from getting infected.
Make sure to clean the wound before using an ointment. Mix zinc oxide and calamine powder to prepare a paste. Apply this paste on the boil to reduce pain and swelling. Alternatively, you can also use a plain ointment to eliminate the boil.
4. Take over-the-counter painkillers to reduce pain
Take over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation caused by the boil. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of skin boils. Make sure to drink 8-10 glasses of water daily to keep your body hydrated.
Avoid caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate your body and make you more prone to bacterial infections.
5. Take prescribed antibiotics to fight infection
If the boil does not subside within a couple of days, take prescribed antibiotics to kill the Staphylococcus bacteria. Antibiotics are very effective in treating skin boils, but they are best used if the boil is still developing.
Use antibiotics to clear the infection if you have a boil that has been there for more than 3-4 days. Antibiotics can kill bacterial infections and reduce the swelling and pain caused by the boil.
6. Shower with an antiseptic body wash
If an infection does not accompany the boil, you can use an antiseptic body wash to clear the infection and heal the spot faster. Make sure to clean the surrounding area and wash your hands before touching the affected area. Take showers regularly to remove bacteria and dirt from your skin pores.
7. Practice Good Hygiene
Practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the infection. Ensure to wash your hands after using the bathroom or touching the affected area.
Regularly clean your surrounding areas, such as your room, bathroom, and kitchen. Regularly clean your clothes to prevent the spread of bacteria that cause skin boils.
8 Natural Remedies for boils on the skin
You can also use some natural remedies.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent that can help heal boils on the skin. You can use the juice of an aloe vera leaf to reduce the pain and the size of the boil. Aloe vera can also help heal the red skin around the boil.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help soothe the pain caused by skin boils and promote healing. Make a paste of turmeric and apply it directly to the skin boil.
Basil is a natural antiseptic agent that can help clean the skin and kill off any bacteria. Use a basil leaf to create a paste and apply it to the skin boils.
4. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help reduce the swelling and pain caused by boils. Crush a few leaves and make a paste to apply to the skin boils
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer that can help heal the dry and itchy skin around the boil. Mix a few drops of coconut oil with a few drops of turmeric to create a paste. Apply it directly to the boil.
6. Green Tea
Green tea is a great natural antibacterial agent that can help heal boils on the skin. Crush a few green tea leaves and mix them with a few drops of water to create a paste. Apply the paste directly to the skin boil.
7. Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a great antiseptic agent that can help fight off any infection that might be causing the boils. Mix a few drops of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the skin boil.
8. Almond Oil
Almond oil is an effective skin healer that can help speed up the healing process of boils on the skin. Mix a few drops of almond oil with a few drops of green tea leaves to create a paste. Apply the paste directly to the boil.
When to See a Doctor
If you have a skin boil that lasts more than 3-4 days without any change in symptoms, you should see a doctor. A doctor can prescribe you antibiotics and recommend ways to reduce pain and swelling caused by the boil. Following your doctor’s instructions is essential to clear the infection completely.
If you develop skin boils for the first time after 40 years of age, you should see a doctor rule out any underlying conditions. Boils caused by bacterial infections can develop in anyone, but they become more common as you grow older.