Boils are a type of skin abscess, a relatively common skin condition in which a hair follicle becomes infected and inflamed, resulting in a painful pus-filled bump beneath the skin.
There are several different types of boils. A boil is also called a furuncle. A cluster of boils is called a carbuncle. Other types of boils include cystic acne, stye, hidradenitis suppurativa (located in the armpit or groin region), and pilonidal cyst (above the crease of the buttocks).
While painful and cumbersome to deal with, there are many essential oils that can help you treat and prevent boils. Read on to learn more about boils and the best essential oils to treat boils.
Symptoms of Boils
A boil usually begins as a small, hard, red bump on the skin resembling a large pimple. Over a few days, the bump will swell and enlarge and become more tender and painful as it fills with pus. This is known as an abscess. The abscess may be opened in order to drain the pus and relieve the pressure, or it may weep or seep through the surface of the skin on its own.
Other symptoms of boils include fever and general malaise, as well as swollen lymph nodes in the area near the boil. Boils can occur anywhere on the body where hair follicles are present.
Causes of Boils
Boils are caused by a bacterial infection. They are most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, although other types of bacteria and fungi may also cause boils. The exact cause leading to the infection that results in a boil may be difficult to determine. However, there are several different reasons why boils form.
Inflamed Hair Follicles
Inflamed hair follicles are generally caused by ingrown hairs as a result of shaving. Inflamed hair follicles can also result from chafing, such as when tight underwear or athletic clothing with elastic is worn.
Splinter or Foreign Material Lodged in Skin
Foreign objects lodged within the skin are a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Be sure to remove splinters from the skin using sterile tweezers or forceps, making sure to clean the area before and after, and apply something to the skin to help heal and prevent infection after removing the foreign object, such as one of the essential oils listed below.
Clogged Sweat Glands
The best way to prevent clogged sweat glands is to wear loose clothing, rather than tight clothing which can cause friction that leads to irritation. Wearing natural fibers that are more breathable rather than synthetic materials can also help.
Cuts and Scrapes
Everyone who shaves has experienced a cut or two before. They can be quite painful, even without getting infected. But add to that a painful bacterial infection, and it can be much worse.
There are ways to prevent ingrown hairs from shaving. First, always wet the skin and hair before shaving. Be sure to use a soap or creme or something with a lather to create a barrier between the blade and the skin. Do not tug at or pull the skin taut while shaving. And never shave against the direction of hair growth.
Caring for your skin property post-shave, such as exfoliating and moisturizing and using essential oils right for your skin, can help prevent ingrown hairs from developing. Also, never share razors.
Sometimes, a boil can develop where an insect bite has broken the skin, allowing bacteria to enter and fester. There are many essential oils that can help prevent and treat insect bites, such as tea tree essential oil, peppermint essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, and lavender essential oil. See below to read how these oils can help.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants can help strengthen your immune system and keep your skin at its best.
Proper hygiene is a must in aiming to prevent boils. Washing your hands frequently and your face at least once daily are crucial. Do not share personal athletic wear and gear, or towels and linens, and wash them in between uses. Adding certain essential oils to your laundry, such as tea tree oil, can help kill bacteria.
Certain Health Conditions and Diseases
It is important that you seek medical care if you have boils along with other health conditions such as diabetes, certain heart conditions, and compromised immune systems, as these circumstances can lead to a greater risk of complications as a result thereof.
When taking medications that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids and chemotherapy, it is also advised that you seek medical care should you develop boils.
Important to Note
Some bacterial infections may need to be treated with antibiotics in order to fully kill the bacteria. In the case of boils caused by MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, antibiotics are necessary to treat the infection and reduce the risk of spreading.
Treating Boils with Essential Oils
While in many cases, antibiotics may be needed to help fight the bacterial infection causing your boils, there are also plenty of natural remedies that can be used to augment your treatment regime, including the use of essential oils.
There are many ways that essential oils can help treat your boils. Here are just some of the way essential oils can help:
Essential oils have numerous healing properties
Essential oils are known for their healing properties. The oils are concentrated and help the skin heal and regenerate. Some essential oils can also help draw out the pus in the boil in order to accelerate the healing process.
Many essential oils are anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils can soothe uncomfortable inflammation and help reduce the pain of boils. Essential oils can also help reduce fluid retention.
Many essential oils are analgesic
Many essential oils are pain-relieving, and when applied to boils, especially with a warm compress, can help alleviate some of the discomfort, pain, and tenderness associated with boils.
Essential oils are soothing
Many essential oils are particularly useful in soothing cuts, scrapes, burns, and other skin irritations, including boils. Essential oils can help soothe redness, pain, itching, and burning, and promote faster healing.
Many essential oils are antibacterial and antimicrobial
Essential oils can help fight the bacteria and other infectious pathogens which causes boils and infections and can be used to disinfect them once they have opened and begun to drain.
Essential oils are immune-boosting
Essential oils can help boost your immune system, which can in turn, help fight and prevent infections.
The Best Essential Oils for Boils
Tea Tree essential oil is one of the best essential oils for boils and one of the best oils for many other skin conditions as well. Tea Tree essential oil, or Melaleuca oil, is a common ingredient in many skin care products due to its far-reaching benefits and numerous healing properties.
Such healing properties include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. Tea tree oil is purifying and cleansing and is used to fight infections of all kinds, including bacterial, fungal, and viral.
Tea tree oil works particularly well on infected skin, although it should not be used in concentrated form directly on broken skin. It can soothe and reduce irritation as well as redness and swelling, and it also works to heal wounds. Be sure to use it with a carrier oil such as olive, castor, or coconut oil and apply daily to the boil until it is gone.
Lavender is one of the most well known and widely used essential oils, renowned for its endless healing properties, and therefore endless uses. Lavender is soothing and anti-inflammatory, which is useful for all types of skin afflictions.
It is a staple in natural first aid kits, as it is antibacterial, which means it aids in fighting infections such as those occurring in boils. It can be used topically, and is used for a number of skin conditions and irritations, and therefore is especially useful in treating boils. It can also be blended with many other essential oils for maximum effect in treating boils.
Lemon essential oil has antiseptic, antifungal, and disinfectant properties. Lemon essential oil contains antioxidant properties that can help protect and heal the skin.
Lemon essential oil contains therapeutic properties such as antimicrobial, antiseptic, bactericidal, tonic, astringent, and exfoliating. It can be used for treating acne and boils.
Mixed in a cream, it can help clear troubled or congested skin, and its antiseptic qualities help treat boils and other wounds.
Peppermint contains L-menthol, which gives it that cooling sensation most often associated with it and lends to its analgesic and anesthetic properties, which aid in pain relief.
Peppermint oil also contains antiseptic and astringent properties. Peppermint essential oil is soothing, yet invigorating. When used in a carrier oil, it can relieve pain, reduce redness and inflammation, and alleviate itchiness.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil has several health benefits including: alleviating headaches and energizing the body.
Vivorific’s peppermint essential oil is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
Thyme essential oil is great in treating boils because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Thyme essential oil can help strengthen the immune system and fight colds, flu, and other infectious bacteria.
Frankincense essential oil has been used for over 5000 years and is even considered sacred by some. Frankincense has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, which are fantastic at treating skin irritations.
Frankincense also stimulates skin cell regeneration which aids in healing and reducing the appearance and occurrence of scars and can be useful in treating skin infections, sores, and boils. Frankincense can be used in a warm compress, as well as applied in first aid applications to help heal the wounds of a boil.
Frankincense Essential Oil Combo
Frankincense essential oil has several health benefits including: boosting immune system and relieving stress and anxiety.
Vivorific’s frankincense essential oil combo is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
How to Use Essential Oils for Boils
While natural, essential oils are very powerful substances and should be used with care and caution. Not all essential oils can be used in the same way.
Essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin, but rather, diluted in a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, castor oil, and argan oil.
Essential oils, and carrier oils, should always be tested on an inconspicuous place on the body first for irritation or allergic reaction.
When treating boils, it is important first to note that you should never squeeze, pop or otherwise open a boil on your own. Doing so can risk the spread of bacteria and infection, as the bacteria is contagious.
When using essential oils to treat boils, first make sure your hands are washed thoroughly. Then make sure the area being treated has also been washed thoroughly. There are several ways essential oils can be used to treat boils, and are listed below.
Essential Oil Roll-On Application Method
Combine your chosen essential oils with a carrier oil such as castor oil, which has been used for centuries to help heal wounds, and add to a roller bottle for direct application to your clean, dry skin. It is important to note that this roller bottle should not be shared with others, as you do not wish to spread the bacteria that cause the boil.
Essential Oils with Warm Compress
A warm compress is a great first step in treating boils, as it can help reduce swelling by drawing the pus to the surface so that it may drain and relieve pressure, thereby relieving pain.
You can add essential oils to your warm compress for added benefits by taking a clean washcloth, soaking it in clean, hot water, then adding a few drops of essential oil or blend such as Tea Tree and Lavender, and applying to the affected area for 3 minutes. Repeat as needed.
Essential Oils as Disinfectant Spray
Tea tree and lavender essential oils are a powerful disinfecting duo that can be great for fighting infections such as boils. Combine equal drops of these two essential oils with a solution of equal parts witch hazel and water into a spray bottle, and spritz your boil.
Essential Oil Clay Paste or Poultice
Essential oils can be mixed with bentonite clay to help draw out the pus and accelerate the healing process. Determine which essential oils will work best for you and your skin, and mix with bentonite clay, adding just enough water to create a thick paste. Then apply directly to the boil and leave on for around 15 minutes. Gently remove the paste and continue with your wound care process.
After choosing your desired essential oils for boils and the best application to suit your needs, be sure to dress your wound with clean and sterile gauze after treatment, and dispose of your old bandage properly. Best practices including frequent cleaning, proper first aid treatment, and changing of the dressing will ensure your boil heals properly.
If your boil persists for more than 2-3 weeks, it is best to consult your health care provider. Additionally, if you have more than one boil, known as a carbuncle, always consult your health care provider.
3 Frequently Asked Questions About Boils
Q: How long does it take for a boil to heal?
A: It can take a few weeks for a boil to completely heal. A boil must first rise to the surface and open in order to drain and begin the healing process.
Q: Is a boil contagious?
A: Boils are not technically contagious. However, the bacteria within them, which is causing the infection and pain, are contagious. If the bacteria spread to other areas of the skin that are open or broken, a new infection site may result.
Q: What if I have recurring boils?
A: Recurring boils could be an indication of a MRSA infection, which can only be treated by a doctor. If you have recurring boils, it is important that you contact your health care provider for a proper diagnosis and appropriate course of treatment. Essential oils will not help treat a MRSA infection.
In conclusion, boils are a common occurrence and can arise due to a variety of reasons. In many cases, boils can be effectively treated at home with the use of essential oils as part of a proper care regime. Always be sure to follow proper hygiene protocol and best practices when using essential oils to treat boils.
Are there any of your favorite essential oils that did not make the best essential oils for boils list? Share them in comments below.
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