Essential oils are substances which are extracted from the roots, flowers, herbs, trees, and fruit of plants. The oils give plants a unique scent, and they contain active compounds, many of which are antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, or antifungal in nature. These properties have led to an increased interest in the health benefits of essential oils, along with an unwillingness to put up with unpleasant side effects from medicines. Essential oils can bring the body into balance, rather than just treating symptoms like conventional medication, and a balanced body is a healthy body.
- 1 How to Use Essential Oils
- 2 Inhaling Essential Oils
- 3 Using Essential Oils Topically
- 4 Essential Oil Safety: The Rules
- 5 Essential Oils for the Skin
- 6 Boils
- 7 What are the causes of boils?
- 8 Symptoms of Boils
- 9 When to seek medical advice:
- 10 Diagnosing Boils
- 11 Self-Care for Boils
- 12 Preventing Boils
- 13 Essential Oils for Boils
- 14 Tea Tree Oil
- 15 Lavender Oil
- 16 Black Seed Oil
- 17 Castor Oil
- 18 Bergamot Oil
- 19 Eucalyptus Oil
- 20 Other Remedies to Try to Heal Boils
- 21 Flour and Vinegar
- 22 Banana
- 23 Onion or Potato
- 24 Washcloth Compress
- 25 Turmeric
- 26 Milk
How to Use Essential Oils
The safest and effective ways of using essential oils are either inhaling them or applying them topically to the skin.
Inhaling Essential Oils
This is so effective because the scent receptors in the nose carry the oils to the limbic system in the brain which is in charge of emotional response and mood. So essential oils have the ability to relax us, boost our mood, and uplift our energy. Try using them in a diffuser to disperse an oil throughout a room, inhale them from the palm of your hand, from the bottle, or from a handkerchief, or mix them with water to create a room spray or effective household cleaner.
Using Essential Oils Topically
Applying essential oils to the skin is also very effective, as the tiny oil molecules absorb through the skin very easily. One of the most common uses is in massage, where the actual act of massage increases blood flow which aids absorption of the oil. Massage with oils can be used to reduce stress, treat headaches, menstrual cramps, muscle aches and pains, and more. Before applying an oil to the skin, you should always dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut or sweet almond oil. This reduces the risk of the oil causing any irritation. Do a patch test with a small amount of oil on the skin of your upper arm before use to test for an adverse reaction. As well as using oils in massage, you can add oils to your bath, add them to a hot or cold compress, or add them to your skincare products. Be careful not to get oil near your eyes, ears, or any areas of broken skin.
Essential Oil Safety: The Rules
Treat essential oils like medicines in your home, keep them out of reach of children and pets who might be attracted to their scent and ingest them.
Keep oils in a dark glass bottle and keep the bottle sealed, as air and sunlight can make the active compounds less effective.
Keep essential oils away from the eyes, ears, and genitals.
Choose a pure oil rather than one that has added synthetic chemicals or cheaper oils added. There is more of a chance that you will experience an adverse reaction from unknown ingredients.
Essential oils should not generally be ingested unless you are doing so under the supervision of someone suitably qualified. The liver can be damaged as it’s the liver that has the task of metabolising the oils. When the oils are metabolised, they can be broken down into toxic substances in the body.
Always dilute an oil before applying it to the skin, and use a suitable carrier oil such as jojoba or olive oil. Using oil neat on the skin can lead to irritation, and to further reduce this risk, dilute a small amount of oil, apply one drop to the forearm or upper arm and wait for 24 hours. This will allow you to see if there’s any reaction. If there is a reaction, wash the oil off with soap and water, and don’t use the oil.
Some oils can make the skin more sensitive to the skin, and can even cause the skin to burn. The citrus oils, in particular, can have this effect. Wait up to 48 hours after applying oils before you expose your skin to the sun. Some of the oils that are known to increase sensitivity to the sun include bergamot, lemon, lime, and grapefruit oil.
Not all citrus oils are phototoxic, sweet orange and mandarin oils are safe to use topically. However, bergamot, lemon, lime, and grapefruit oil are all available in safer versions that have been processed differently. These should not make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Make citrus oils a little safer by adding no more than 4 drops of oil at a time to an ounce of your carrier oil.
Essential Oils for the Skin
Essential oils can treat specific issues like acne, dryness, oiliness, wrinkles, stretch marks, and scars. Their moisturising, balancing, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties make them an excellent treatment for skin issues or as an addition to your existing skincare regime.
There’s no question that essential oils are great for the skin, but remember to do your research on your chosen oils before you use them, especially if you haven’t used them before. Research the dosage and usage instructions, as well as any special precautions. Always dilute an oil in a carrier oil at a ratio to 1 drop of oil to 1ml of carrier oil.
Always carry out a patch test of a small amount of oil on the skin inside of your elbow or upper arm to check for sensitivity. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. Oils are very beneficial but remember that they are concentrated and contain active compounds that can cause harm if they are used incorrectly.
Natural doesn’t mean safe!
Boils, also known as furuncles, are red lumps filled with pus that can develop on the skin around infected hair follicles. They can be very painful. Boils become more painful as they get larger, and tend to burst on their own within days or weeks.
Boils most commonly appear on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. Boils that form on the eyelids are called a stye.
What are the causes of boils?
Most boils are caused by the staphylococcus bacteria, which can enter the body via small cuts or breaks in the skin. Some people are more prone to skin infections, especially if they have:
- Impaired immunity
- Poor nutritional status
- Poor personal hygiene
- Sensitive or irritated skin
Symptoms of Boils
A boil starts off as a hard, red, painful swelling which gradually softens, and becomes larger and more painful over the course of a few days. A collection of pus forms on the top of the boil. You will need to see your doctor if you develop a skin infection. If you have an infection, you can expect to notice these symptoms:
- The skin surrounding the boil turns red, painful, and feels warm and inflamed
- More boils can develop near the original boil
- You develop a fever
- The lymph nodes closest to the boil can become swollen
When to seek medical advice:
See your doctor immediately if:
- You have a high temperature
- The skin near the boil turns red or develops red streak
- The pain gets much worse
- More boils appear
- You have a heart condition, diabetes, impaired immunity, or you’re taking medication that suppresses your immunity, like drugs for cancer or HIV.
Though boils aren’t usually a medical emergency, if you have impaired immunity or an existing health condition, and you develop signs of an infection, you should seek medical attention right away.
Your doctor will diagnose a boil or a skin infection from examining your skin. The infection might affect more than one part of your body, so prepared for your doctor to examine, or ask questions about, different parts of your body.
Self-Care for Boils
Apply a warm compress. Make the compress by soaking a washcloth in warm water and wringing it out. The warm water will help to reduce the pain and draw any pus to the surface of the skin. If you repeat this often, it will help the boil to come to a head and burst. A boil will usually burst within the first 10 days. When the pus starts draining from the boil, wash it regularly with an antibacterial soap to keep it clean. Do this until the pus has gone. Then apply an antibacterial cream and put a dressing over the top. Don’t use waterproof plasters or dressings, as some air needs to be able to circulate. Clean the area 2-3 times each day and continue using warm compresses until the boil had healed. Don’t burst the boil with a needle or pin, as this can cause the infection to spread.
If the boil is severely painful, but it’s not draining of pus, you might need to see your doctor who will create an incision with a scalpel to allow the pus to drain away.
If you have a particularly bad infection, you may need to have a blood test, and antibiotics will be given. If your doctor drains the boil, they may send a sample of the pus to the lab to check what type of bacteria is present and the correct antibiotic can be prescribed.
Whether the boil bursts and drains at home or you have it drained by your doctor, you will still need to keep the infected area clean by washing it 2-3 times per day, then applying an antibiotic cream and covering it with an appropriate dressing. If the area of skin begins to appear red again, or if you notice signs of infection, seek medical advice to ensure that the infection hasn’t returned.
Follow these tips to prevent boils:
- Thoroughly wash clothes, bed linen and towels belonging to anyone who is infected with boils.
- Keep all skin wounds clean
- Maintain good personal hygiene
Essential Oils for Boils
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has many known benefits, which are down to its antimicrobial, antibiotic and antifungal properties. It has long been used as a natural remedy to treat health concerns such as skin problems, fungal infections, and much more. It’s so good for use on boils as it can kill the bacteria that caused it and it brings the boil to a head faster.
How to use it:
- Wash the skin around the boil with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap.
- Add a cup of salt to a litre of hot water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture for around 5 minutes, to make a compress.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the cloth and apply it to the boil for around 10 minutes.
- Massage a few drops of the oil onto the infected area. Make sure you apply it to the boil and the skin around it.
- Cover the affected area with a dressing.
- Repeat this up to 3 times each day.
- Wash your hands thoroughly in between treatments, as you can spread the infection if you don’t.
Lavender oil has skin healing properties that can bring the boil to a head faster, relieve the pain, and promote healing. This is one of the best essential oils for boils.
How to use it:
- Wash the affected area with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap.
- Apply a few drops of the lavender oil to the affected area focusing on the boil.
- Cover the boil with a dressing
- Apply a warm compress over the dressing a few times each day for 5 minutes each time. Change the dressing a few times per day after you have done this.
Black Seed Oil
This oil has been used as a natural treatment for skin complaints for hundreds of years. It’s known to be especially effective for boils.
How to use it:
Mix ½ teaspoon of the oil into a hot or cold drink and do this twice per day until the infection is gone.
This oil is a natural antiseptic and is very effective for boils.
How to use it:
- Put a few drops of castor oil onto a gauze dressing
- Apply the gauze directly onto the boil
- Repeat this several times each day until it brings the boil to a head and the pus starts to drain out.
Bergamot oil is an effective natural treatment for wounds and skin infections like cracked skin, boils, ulcers, herpes, chicken pox, itching and eczema. It’s an effective antibacterial that gets rid of the infection and promotes healing.
How to use it:
- Add a few drops of bergamot oil to some hot water.
- Soak a washcloth in the mixture then apply it to the boil. Repeat this until the infection clears up. compress in a mixture and then apply to boil.
This oil has a long history of medicinal use and it’s long been used for skin complaints too. It’s an antibacterial and antiseptic, and every effective for boils.
How to use it:
- Mix 3 drops of Eucalyptus oil with an ounce of powdered slippery elm.
- Make a paste by adding boiling water until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Spread the paste on the boil.
- Repeat twice per day until the infection has gone.
Other Remedies to Try to Heal Boils
Flour and Vinegar
Mix flour and vinegar to make a paste. Apply the mixture to the boil. Wrap it with a dressing and leave it overnight. In the morning, the mixture should be hard. The boil may have come to a head. If not, repeat this a few times until it works.
Take a ripe banana, and remove the peel. Place the peel on the boil, and leave it overnight. Use a bandage to secure it in place. It should help draw the pus out of the boil. Wash your hands afterwards in case the infection spreads.
Onion or Potato
Cut the onion or potato into small slices. Put them on the boil and cover with a bandage to hold them in place. Do this up to 4 times per day until the boil clears up.
Both vegetables have pain relieving properties.
A warm compress is a very effective way to heal a boil. Soak a washcloth in warm water and salt. Place the cloth on the infected area of skin for around 15 minutes.
Repeat this several times each day. This helps the boil to heal by encouraging the pus to drain faster.
The spice is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and you can mix it with a glass of milk or water and drink it to treat the boil from the inside out. Do this a few times per day for up to 5 days. You can also try making a paste, by mixing equal amounts of the spice and minced ginger. Apply this to the boil and cover with a dressing.
Repeat a few times per day, and wash your hands afterwards.
Milk has long been considered an effective skin tonic, and a natural treatment for boils, as it can reduce the pain and help to heal the infection.
How to use it:
- Mix 3 teaspoons of salt with a cup of milk in a saucepan and heat it up.
- Add flour to the mixture to make a paste.
- Apply the paste to the boil and cover it with a dressing.
- Repeat this 3-4 times per day until the boil comes to a head and bursts.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after treating the boil in case you spread the infection.