Boils on your inner thighs are no different to the boils found elsewhere on your body and can be treated in the same way. Frequent eruptions of boils are a sign that you may need to make some dietary changes.
What Are Boils?
A boil is the result of a skin infection that begins in a hair follicle (pore) or the connected sebum gland.
In the earliest stages the infection causes reddening of the skin and the development of a small tender lump.
After four to seven days, the lump takes on a whiter appearance as pus collects under the skin.
Boils are most commonly found on the face and neck, in the armpits, on the shoulders, and on the buttocks.
If a boil forms on the eyelid, it is called a sty.
A group of boils called a carbuncle, indicates the presence of a more serious infection and carbuncles usually develop on the back and on the thighs.
What Causes Boils?
The majority of boils are caused when staphylococcal (staph)bacteria enter the skin through nicks, cuts or abrasions, or when the germ is able to gain access to the hair follicle and enter directly.
Friction (rubbing) is often the cause of abrasions, and this occurs when skin chafes against skin (particularly in those who are overweight or obese), or when rough clothing rubs against skin.
Those with existing health problems are more susceptible to skin infections. Health problems include:
- Problems with the immune system
- Poor nutrition
- Poor hygiene
- Exposure to harsh chemicals that cause irritation.
- Already a carrier of Staph
- Eczema or scabies
Symptoms Of Boils
A boil will first appear as a hard, red, painful lump which will be about half an inch in size.
Over the following few days, the lump enlarges and becomes softer and more painful. Finally, a pocket of pus forms on the top of the boil.
If a more severe infection is present:
- The infection spreads to the surrounding skin which will become red, painful, warm, and swollen.
- More boils (a carbuncle) may appear around the original one.
- You many develop a fever.
- Lymph nodes may become swollen.
When to Seek Medical Care
You should see your doctor if:
- You develop a fever.
- You have swollen lymph nodes.
- The skin surrounding the boil turns red or red streaks appear.
- The pain becomes severe.
- The boil does not drain.
- A second boil appears.
For those in poor health the infection is more serious, you should see your physician if you develop a boil and also have diabetes, a heart murmur, an immune system problem, or if you use immune suppressing drugs.
What You Should Know About Staphylococcus Bacteria And Your Immune System
Some people are carriers of staph bacteria. About 30% of the population are estimated to harbour these bacteria on their skin, in their nose and in their throat.
Being a staph carrier doesn’t automatically mean that you will develop a staph infection, but it makes it more likely. If you cut or damage your skin, or have surgery the bacteria are already present and can easily infect you.
If your immune system is strong, it will prevent an infection from taking hold and you will be none the wiser. Most people who are staph carriers don’t know that they are carriers because the bacteria have, as yet, not caused them a problem.
Being a staph carrier poses a higher risk for infection (and complications) if you go onto develop type 2 diabetes. The CDC estimates that 29 million people are type 2 diabetic and another 86 million adults (one in 3) are prediabetic.
Prediabetes means that blood sugar levels are very high and that if steps aren’t taken to reduce blood sugar levels, these people will develop diabetes.
Since many people don’t know that they have such high blood sugar they won’t realize that they need to make the necessary dietary changes.
If you are overweight or obese, it is quite likely that you have abnormal blood sugar. Slim people are at risk too though.
You can be a healthy weight and still carry high levels of visceral fat, which is the type of fat that puts people at the most risk when it comes to diabetes.
Carrying this fat around your internal organs while being otherwise slim is known as being skinny fat.
Low calorie diets that quickly reduce levels of visceral fat have been able to effectively reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
You don’t need to have already developed diabetes for staph to be a problem if you are a carrier. Having high bloods sugar provides a food source for the bacteria and fuels an infection once skin is breached.
High blood sugar levels also reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. When you have an infection, your body sends white blood cells out to fight it off, but when you have high blood sugar, the glucose in your blood slows the work of white blood cells, and even things like minor cuts and razor nicks take much longer to heal, never mind a staph infection boil.
The point here is that if you are a staph carrier and you have high blood sugar you are more likely to suffer from boils caused by a staph infection. The same is true if someone in your home is a staph carrier and you have high blood sugar.
You won’t know whether you are a carrier or not unless testing has been carried out by your doctor at some point in the past. And staph testing isn’t carried out as a routine part of your annual health check.
If you suffer from frequent boils, you can ask your doctor for a test to find out for sure.
Given that you rely on your immune system to clear out infections, you will want your immune system to function properly. Even if you aren’t a staph carrier, other people can easily pass the bacteria to you. If your immune system is sluggish because of high blood sugar, instead of your white blood cells swiftly dealing with the first signs of a staph infection, you could instead develop a boil.
Your doctor can do a full blood sugar test for you, and you can get basic blood sugar testing equipment to use at home.
There’s also a common sense test that you can apply to figure out if you may have high blood sugar that is compromising your ability to fight off staph bacteria.
Think about the foods that you routinely eat. Do you eat lots of carbohydrates?
Things like bread (including whole grain), pasta, rice, potatoes, fries, chips, baked goods, sugar added to foods and drinks, sugar already in sodas and smoothies and fruit juices, sugar in processed food?
If you do, you’re eating a diet that is very likely to lead to high blood sugar. Once in your body, carbohydrates turn into glucose which is the form of sugar that your body burns for energy. When foods turn into glucose too quickly, they flood your system with sugar. Simple carbs like those listed above release their glucose super fast.
Check the glycemic load of foods here.
Your body has to keep a tight reign on blood sugar levels, too low and too high are both life threatening. To get the sugar out of your blood, your body releases insulin which sends the sugar off to be converted into fat.
The organ in your body that produces insulin is your pancreas. When it has to pump out insulin all day long for an extended period of time because there is always more sugar being dumped into your bloodstream, it starts to have problems, and the sugar levels in your blood stay at higher levels than is healthy.
So if your diet is carb heavy, you could have high blood sugar and a less robust immune system than you should have. Your immune system doesn’t just fight off infections for you, it also protects you from cancer.
If you’re worried that you might have high blood sugar, you can ask your doctor for a test, or use a blood sugar monitor at home, but if you know that you’re eating a high carbohydrate diet, the easiest and the most sensible thing to do is to change the foods that you eat.
Blood sugar reverts to normal fairly quickly once you stop eating so many carbs. In fact the more serious conditions, prediabetes and diabetes, can be turned around in just 8 weeks when the right low carb diet plan is followed. Do a Google search for the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet for more information.
Of course, not all boils will be the result of being a staph carrier or having high blood sugar.
If you are exposed to staph bacteria your immune system may be unable to fight it of for a number of other reasons.
But since we’re focusing on boils on the inner thighs, and those boils are usually caused by chafing that allows the bacteria to enter the skin, and chafing generally occurs because thighs are rubbing together, then it’s worth considering if your weight and your diet and your blood sugar are playing a role. Especially if inner thigh boils are a recurring problem for you.
Other factors that can compromise your immune system’s ability to effectively fight off bacteria before an infection develops are stress, pregnancy and age.
When you’re suffering from stress, depression, anxiety or even loneliness your immune system doesn’t function at full strength.
The first research that linked stress to impaired immunity was carried out in the 1980’s. Psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and immunologist Ronald Glaser, PhD, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, studied the effects of stress on medical students.
They found that each year at exam time the students immune systems weakened, and blood samples showed that the students had lower levels of infection fighting natural killer cells and T cells, and that their production of immune boosting gamma interferon was almost non existent.
Since then more research has confirmed the link between stress and compromised immunity.
While stress is an unavoidable part of modern life, there are measures that you can adopt to reduce its negative effects.
Inhaling neroli essential oil (orange blossom) has been shown to lower the levels of stress hormones in the body, and meditation and yoga are both age old and very powerful stress busting techniques.
A weaker immune system is normal during pregnancy, and it is thought that this helps to prevent the immune system from rejecting the fetus which is a foreign body.
Immunity weakens with age, which is why older people are more prone to infections and they take longer to recover from illnesses.
Hygiene To Prevent Boils
If you suffer from frequent boils, it’s a good idea to take extra measures where hygiene is concerned, since you may be a staph carrier, or live with someone or have close contact with someone who is carrying the bacteria. Remember that 30% of the population are carriers, that’s almost one in three people.
Using standard antibacterial soaps isn’t a good idea because the simple disinfectant ingredients used contribute to bacterial resistance.
Staph bacteria are very good at developing resistance to antiseptics and antibiotics.
Shortly after the discovery of penicillin (the first antibiotic) in 1928, Alexander Fleming, the scientist responsible for the discovery, announced that numerous bacteria were already resistant to penicillin.
In 1945, when a method of wide scale production of penicillin was introduced, and the antibiotic was routinely prescribed by doctors, 14% of staph bacteria strains were resistant and Fleming warned that improper use of penicillin would inevitably lead to even more widespread resistance.
By 1950, 59% of staph bacteria were resistant and by 1995 an incredible 95% were resistant to penicillin.
Other antibiotics have been developed and staph has found ways to combat many of them.
We now have a situation where a form of staph called MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is resistant to pretty much everything that we throw at it.
About 2% of the population are MRSA carriers by the way, and MRSA can cause boils.
Using antibacterial soaps gives bacteria more and more opportunities to learn how to develop resistance, and bacteria love to communicate that resistance.
Bacteria that have never even come into contact with a particular antibacterial substance can have the snip of genetic material which allows them to be resistant.
Whenever two bacteria meet (any kind of bacteria), they swap information via a plasmid exchange. During an information exchange the resistant bacteria will pass over a strand of DNA containing the resistance information.
As soon as this happens the other bacteria becomes resistant to all of the antibiotic and antibacterial substances that the first bacteria is resistant too. This new DNA, can now be passed on to every other bacteria that is encountered and to subsequent generations.
Bacteria also possess “jumping genes,” called transposons, which jump from bacterium to bacterium independently of plasmid exchange. Like humans, bacteria also carry diseases – bacteria viruses called bacteriophages. These viruses, as they infect other bacteria, pass on the information for resistance.
But that isn’t all. Bacteria that have learned resistance to the chemical weapons that we use against them have the ability to release pheromones (chemical signals) that attract other bacteria to them so that this exchange can take place.
So how can you clean bacteria away from your skin without contributing to the threat of bacterial resistance which is now looming over us?
The best way is to use complex substances that bacteria will have a much harder time developing immunity to.
Some essential oils are powerful bacteria busters and you can add these essential oils to your liquid soaps and body washes to give them antibacterial properties.
While a large number of essential oils exhibit antibacterial properties, research has shown that several oils are particularly effective.
One study assessed the effects of patchouli, tea tree, lavender and geranium essential oils and another oil called Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) on the dangerous Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
The oils were all tested individually and also in combination. Citricidal and geranium oil used together showed the greatest-antibacterial effects against MRSA, while a combination of geranium and tea tree oil was most effective against the methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (Oxford strain).
Other studies have found that lavender essential oil used alone is an effective antibacterial agent against staph infections including MRSA.
Tea, tree, lavender and geranium are all widely available and inexpensive essential oils.
You can add 20 drops of essential oil to each ounce of liquid soap to make your own effective antibacterial soap. Shake well before each use to keep the essential oils well mixed throughout the soap.
If you want to add Citricidal to your essential oil regime, you should know that it is very strong and can cause acid like burns on your skin if it isn’t diluted properly. You should only use 2 or 3 drops in your oil preparation.
Another essential part of a healthy daily skin care routine is moisturizing, particularly in any areas where skin is chafed like the armpit or inner thighs.
To prevent bacteria from colonizing damaged skin, use essential oils in a moisturizing base like coconut oil, sunflower, jojoba oil or rice bran oil.
Use 20 drops per ounce of base oil and smooth onto the skin twice a day.
Using essential oils when you wash and when you moisturize will help to prevent the bacteria on your skin from causing an infection.
Treating An Existing Boil
The best time to treat a boil is as soon as you notice the first signs. This way you can kill the bacteria before they have had a chance to multiply and do even more damage.
But even if the boil is in the later stages you can use the same process.
To get rid of the bacteria you can use essential oils or you can use garlic.
While garlic isn’t the most fragrant choice, and you wouldn’t want to add it to your soap or moisturizer, it’s perfect for spot treatment of a small area, and it would be my first choice because it is such a powerful antibacterial and antibiotic substance.
Stephen Buhner is his book Herbal Antibiotics, notes that garlic has the following known active ingredients:
ajoene, allicin, aliin, allixin, allyl mercaptan, allyl methyl trisulfinate, allyl methyl trisulfide, allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide, diallyl hepta sulfide, diallyl hexa sulfide, diallyl penta sulfide, diallyl sulfide, diallyl tetra sulfide, diallyl tri sulfide, dimethyl disulphide, dimethyl trisulfide, dirpopyl disulphide, methyl ajoene, methyl allyl thiosulfinate, propylene sulfide, 2-vinyl-4H-1, 3-tithiin, 3-vinyl-4H1, 2dithiin, S-allyl cycteine sulfoxide, S-allyl mercaoti, cysteine.
Along with 35 constituents whose actions are as yet unknown. He also points out that penicillin has just one active ingredient – penicillin.
All of those active constituents work synergistically with one another strengthening the actions of each and every one in myriad ways. Bacteria can’t figure out how to beat their effects, and as yet staph bacteria haven’t developed any resistance to garlic.
Garlic kills staph bacteria, even the vapors from garlic kill staph bacteria. In a study conducted way back in 1938, garlic vapors were shown to kill bacteria (including staph bacteria) up to 8 inches away.
Plenty of other studies have demonstrated the ability of crushed raw garlic to kill bacteria including MRSA on contact.
So how can you use garlic to get rid of your boils?
Since you are dealing a staph infection, it’s best to get the strongest garlic that you can, and that is garlic that hasn’t been damaged by irradiation.
To prolong the storage life of garlic the bulbs are irradiated to prevent them from sprouting. But irradiation destroys a lot of the active compounds in garlic. The good news is that not all garlic is irradiated and there is a simple way to check on the garlic in your kitchen.
Often you’ll see a garlic bulb sprouting in your vegetable drawer, that is good, healthy garlic! You can also test by slicing a clove of garlic in half along its length and looking for evidence of a greenish shoot inside – the endosperm. This means that your garlic is still alive and hasn’t been irradiated. If you were to plant a living clove of garlic in your garden, it would grow into an entire new bulb.
If you can’t be sure that the garlic in your kitchen is irradiated or not, use it anyway and then head out to buy organic garlic.
One you have your garlic, you need to crush it. You can do that in a garlic press, under the heel of a strong knife, with a rolling pin or even with a can of tomatoes.
Leave the crushed clove to stand for ten to fifteen minutes. This allows the garlic to produce all of its allicin which its most potent antibacterial component.
Allicin is not produced until garlic is crushed and an enzyme called alliinase comes into contact with a substance called alliin. Once the time is up, take the crushed clove and rub it over the boil. It may sting a little but it shouldn’t feel too bad. Hold the garlic in place for at least ten minutes.
Apply garlic to the boil 3 times a day.
You can also use crushed garlic cloves in your bath. Depending on how deep you like your bathwater, use between 4 and 10 crushed cloves.
Eating garlic also gives your immune system a boost. It’s difficult to eat enough garlic to have an antibiotic effect without causing nausea (you would need to eat about 40 cloves at a time), but by eating 3 or 4 cloves a day you can support your immune system.
Eating the garlic raw will ensure that you get its full potency, but as long as you wait 10 minutes after crushing garlic for the allicin to develop (the converting enzyme is destroyed by heat), you can cook it and still obtain many of its benefits. You can even steep crushed cloves in hot water with lemon, honey and ginger, and drink the infusion as a tea.
The only downside to garlic is its smell. It’s pretty pungent. If you plan to hang around at home, then you probably won’t worry too much about the smell but if you need to go out to school or to work you might feel self conscious.
Using lots of perfume can mask the smell, but if you want to, you can just use the garlic once you get home for the day and then wash the area in the morning, and use an essential oil treatment during the day.
You can use the same essential oils that we’ve already mentioned, as a topical treatment on your boil.
Make up a small bottle of treatment oil (20 drops of essential oil or oil blend with one ounce of carrier oil) and take it with you to apply throughout the day.
Lavender can safely be applied to the skin neat, and tea tree oil is also safe to apply to small areas without dilution. When using neat oils you only need to use one or two drops at a time.
You may also want to consider using an essential oil with analgesic (pain relieving) properties. The best oils for this purpose are German Chamomile , Roman Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Lavender Sweet Marjoram, Peppermint, Rosemary and Thyme.
The use of moist heat will help to draw pus from deep inside the boil up to the surface where it can drain away. Draining a boil like this brings a great deal of pain relief and helps the boil to heal more quickly and with less lasting damage to the skin.
If you visit your doctor s/he will often lance the boil to drain out all of the toxic debris, but you should never do this yourself because improper lancing can result in a much more severe infection.
So for home use you need to use a warm compress.
A compress is simply a clean washcloth that you have soaked in hot water. Don’t use water that is too hot though because you could scald your skin.
If you like you can add 6 – 8 drops of an essential oil to the water.
Take the wet cloth and gently wring it out. Don’t squeeze all of the water out, it will cool down too quickly if you do. Then take the cloth, fold it over a couple of times (helps to retain heat for longer) and press it gently over the boil.
When the cloth begins to cool, soak it in the hot water again and repeat the process.
Taking warm baths will also help to draw the pus to the surface.
Once the boil is open and draining, you will need to cover it with a gauze pad and a bandage to keep the site clean.
Heat provides one other healing benefit. When you apply heat, you increase blood flow to the area which means that your body can deliver more infection fighting white blood cells. Used in the very early stages of boll development, regular application of warm compresses may be enough to fight off the infection and prevent the boil from growing.
By using the above remedies your boil will begin to improve very quickly, and with good hygiene measures (and dietary changes if necessary) you should be able to prevent a recurrence.