A boil is a localized inflammation in the skin commencing in a hair root. It is actually caused by a germ called the staphylococcus, but the occurrence of the boil implies a lowered vitality on the part of the skin, for these germs are constantly found in the healthy skin where they are harmless. People whose health is debilitated by diabetes, chronic kidney disease and gout are very prone to this affection, and it is also common in the ill-fed (including the underfed and the overfed), in those suffering from chronic intestinal self-poisoning, in excessive meat-eaters and in the physically or mentally exhausted. Most often, there is a combination of these factors at work. During war soldiers frequently suffer from boils owing to the exhausting conditions of life and the often inadequate diet. Friction, by irritating the hair roots, also plays an important part, thus explaining why boils are so common on the back of the neck (owing to hard, tight collars), on the forearms and the buttocks in sedentary workers.
Treatment of Boils
Intramuscular injections of penicillin have proved to be most efficacious in the treatment of boils, especially where the boils are "in crops". For local treatment, apply frequent moist hot antiseptic dressings, such as boric lint. When the boil "points", i.e. when the pus or matter shows through the skin, a small incision should be made with a sterilized needle to help the pus to escape.
How are boils to be prevented? In the first place it is essential that the sufferer should make sure that there is no specific underlying disease, such as diabetes. Excluding this possibility, a vigorous attempt must be made to build up the general health—not only by tonic medicines but by natural means. The diet must be studied. Protein should be taken in the minimal quantities necessary for life and in the form of eggs, milk, cheese and fish, rather than butcher's meat. It is imperative that the intestinal function should be in perfect order, and this can be achieved by eating abundance of raw fruits, vegetables and whole-meal products. Large quantities of water should be taken between meals and a glass last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
Skin hygiene is equally important. Thorough cleanliness must be observed, and frequent baths (alternating hot and cold) are advisable to tone up the skin. Exposure to fresh air and sunlight and to ultra-violet rays artificially produced are beneficial. A vaccine preparation from the sufferer's own boils injected at regular intervals lessens the liability to boils in stubborn cases.