A boil, also called a furuncle, is a painful inflamed swelling of a hair follicle that forms an abscess typically caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria although it can be caused by other bacteria or fungi found on the skin. It appears as a small rounded or conical nodule surrounded by redness (inflammation). As the boil progresses it gets a small localized pus pocket with a white center.
For some pictures of boils: google! there’s plenty.
A boil is a deep-seated infection which involves the hair follicle and surrounding tissue (apparent from the redness/inflammation). Boils occur most commonly on the neck, armpits, thighs, face, and buttocks. They can appear in other areas of the body as well, e.g. the back or behind the ear. Boils can be quite painful and can be accompanied by fatigue, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell.
Boils are also painful with the pain getting worse as the boil fills with pus and dead tissue.
Boils are contagious and can spread to other areas of skin on the body or to others who come into contact with the pus from a boil. They can grow quickly so it is important to take care of a boil when it arrives.
Contributing factors include: nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, excess sugar or refined carbohydrate consumption. When boils are recurring, then lowered immune response can be suspected. Hence supporting immune system as well as addressing these contributing factors is key in holistic treatment.
According to different sources, you can choose one of two ways to treat a boil: 1. apply a golden seal poultice or undiluted tea tree essential oil directly to the boil, 2-3x a day. This application may resolve the boil. 2. apply warm compresses or poultices as described below and slowly bring the boil to a head and allow it to drain. Continue treating for a few days after with antimicrobial essential oils, e.g. tea tree.
Boils can be treated by direct or undiluted application of essential oils to the isolated area of the boil and surrounding tissue. Apply by dropping directly on area or on a q-tip and rubbing on boil.
Applying the essential oil of Tea tree can prevent the infection from spreading and treat the infection as well.
Applying warm salt water compresses on top of the undiluted application is beneficial in bringing the boil to a head and allowing it to drain.
I have had success with a few cases of treating boils by using Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile syn. Anthemis nobilis) and Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) together.
First, boil some water and then pour water into a large bowl. Place a face cloth into the water and then with rubber gloves on, squeeze the water out of the towel. Check temperature of towel before applying to the skin. Before applying the hot/warm compress on the boil, place two drops of Roman chamomile and two drops Tea tree directly on boil then place the compress on the boil. Hold, without pushing, until the towel has cooled to room temperature. Reapply 2-3x.
I have also utilized a clay poultice with calendula tincture and the same essential oils: Roman chamomile and Tea tree. Typically in two tablespoons of clay: add about 2 dropperfuls of calendula tincture and 3-4 drops of each essential oil.
This process may be repeated 2 – 3x a day for 2-3 days depending on how long it takes for the boil to come to a head.
NOTE: It is very important to make sure you wash all clothes that have come in contact with pus/boil. I recommend washing them separately in a hot water cycle. Add tea tree essential oils into your unscented laundry detergent.
Or you can use a medicated poultice. I like to use Blessed Herbs Poultice which contains: Flax seed†, Myrrh Gum, Goldenseal root†, and Echinacea angustifolia root. I could make this myself but sometimes its great just to be able to grab it out of our medicine cabinet and use. According to Blessed Herbs “Poultices have always been used to remove infection or debris from the skin by using a paste of herbs applied directly to the affected area. Our Poultice Powder is especially formulated for drawing out whatever is on or in the skin that needs to come out.”
For more information on this poultice, visit www.blessedherbs.com
A wide range of essential oils are effective in treating S. aureus infections such as boils. These essential oils include:
Melaleuca alternifolia (extensive studies, see pubmed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Helichrysum (S. aureus: ATCC 6538, MRSA, and MSSA isolates) (Nostro, et al.)
Thyme, Clove (Farag et al 1989) Cinnamaldehyde (Chang ST, et al., 2001)
Bay, Cinnamon, Clove, Thyme (S. aureus 10657) (Palmer, et al.,1998)
Cananga odorata, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Litsea cubeba, Melaleuca alternifolia, Mentha spicata, Ocimum basilicum, Origanum compactum, Thymus vulgaris (Ezzaouia, et al.,2007)
Ezzaouia, S., Chami, N., Chami, F., Bennis, S., Filali-Maltouf, A., and Remmal, A. (2007). Investigation of essential oils to fight multiresistant bacteria and therapeutic applications. International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics,
Farag, R.S., Daw, Z.Y., Hewedi, F.M. and El-Baroty, G.S.A. (1989). Antimicrobial Activity of Some Eqyptian Spice Essential Oils. Journal of Food Protection, Vol.52:9, 665-667 (September).
Nostro, A., Bisignano G., Cannatelli A., et al. (2001). Effectis of Helichysum italicum extract on growth activity of Staphylococcus aureus. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 2001 Jun; 17(6):517-20.