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Boils and Pustules

A boil (or Furuncle) is a deep localized infection caused by Staphylococcus bacteria that enters through broken skin. Boil is a skin disease that causes mild to severe inflammation on the skin due to the localized accumulation of pus and dead tissues. Individual boils can get clustered together forming an inter connected network of boils called carbuncles. Pustules are also caused by bacterial infection. Pustules are small, pus-filled, inflamed and blister-like lesions that forms on the skin surface. Pustules are common in face acne but they also from in shoulders, back, above breastbone and in sweating areas such as groin and armpit.

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Recurrent boils are caused by gastrointestinal bacteria that enters the blood stream and promotes skin infections. Eating too much sugar, either refined sugar or sugar from fruit is also a cause. Small boils that are less than ¼ inch across can be healed effectively by alternative medicines. Boils should never be pressed or squeezed because it may spread the infection and may even cause permanent scarring.


  • Red, small, tender, painful nodules start oozing pus and later leave a tiny scar.
  • A yellowish point appears at the center of the lump when the boil is ready to discharge pus.
  • Immune system’s white blood cells collapse, as a result creating large amounts of pus along with redness, pain and swelling.
  • Some people get itchy sensation when the lumps develop.
  • Sometimes boil gives out unpleasant smell mainly when pus oozes out.



If you have a boil that doesn’t get cleared up improve within a few days, see a dermatologist for treatment, which may include antibiotics, draining or administering steroid injection. If you see red lines radiating from the boil or if you have fever and swelling or if it is extremely tender or under a thick layer of skin, consult your skin specialist immediately. Many home remedies are there to cure boils:

  • Take a leaf from ‘peepal’ tree and smear it with ghee(or butter) and apply it over the boil as lukewarm bandage. Within sometime the boil will burst.
  • De-pigmentation on forehead is caused by the adhesive of plastic ‘bindi’, on the breast it is caused by the plastic purse usually kept by women under the bra, on the fold of ear by spectacle frame, on the feet by rubber straps of slippers and on the waist due to tight pressure caused by the petticoat string. For most of the women these have been the causes.
  • Application of hot compresses on a boil will improve circulation and bring blood to the area and can diminish the bacteria. In case of acute boils – one that pops up suddenly and is non recurrent – immerse a washcloth in hot water(very hot) and put it over the boil for 20 minutes. Do this once a day.
  • Hot and cold compress drains out pus from the pustule. Treat the boil with just hot compresses. Use alternating heat and cold to draw out the pus. Again soak a washcloth in hot water, wring it out and place it on the boil for around 10 minutes. Then apply another washcloth, this time soak in icy cold water apply it for 10 minutes. Repeat this cycle three times twice a day.
  • Take 1 tablespoon of tincture of both Echinacea and goldenseal herbs three times a day until the boil vanishes. Beware of the taste, it is very bitter.
  • In Ayurveda – the ancient natural healing system, boils are seen as ‘pitta’ disorder: an excess of fiber and heat. Turmeric helps in reducing the inflammation of a boil and helps in preventing recurrences. Look for a standardised extract of turmeric and take 450mg three times a day, or use it to make a skin paste that will quickly bring a boil to a head. To make paste, combine 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon Epsom salt and a baked onion in a blender to make a thick paste. Spread the paste on a piece of cloth to make a bandage and put the cloth over the boil. Wrap a plastic cloth over the bandage so that the yellow coloring of turmeric doesn’t get over your bedsheets and clothes. Leave poultice on the boil overnight and clean in the morning. Repeat the process for two or three nights.

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