Natural Treatments for Abscesses, Boils, and Carbuncles

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Abscesses, boils, and carbuncles are sometimes painful inflamed areas of the skin that you can ease naturally. An abscess is an inflamed, pus‐filled mass surrounded by pink or red. Abscesses typically occur in the armpits; in the groin, anal, or vaginal areas; near the base of the spine; on the face; and inside the mouth. Abscesses are caused by bacterial infection usually made possible by a weakened immune system.

An abscess around a hair follicle is a boil. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils affecting more than one hair follicle. Boils and carbuncles are commonly caused by a compromised immune system, diabetes, contact with a boil, skin conditions such as acne and eczema, or poor hygiene.

When you notice an abscess, boil, or carbuncle, first do no harm. Resist the temptation to press down on it, which can drive the infection deeper into the skin. Nor should you try to lance it with a needle, because that may worsen the infection.

Instead keep the area clean, using soap and water. Seek medical attention if you have a fever approaching 102 degrees F (38.9 degrees C), the abscess is bigger than two inches in diameter, is in the groin or rectal area, or has red streaks leading away from it.

Treating abscesses

For an abscess up to a half inch in diameter, apply a warm, moist compress for 30 minutes four times daily and then apply a topical antiseptic.

To make your own antiseptic wash, follow these steps:

  1. In a glass container, mix the following herbs:

    1 to 2 teaspoons of barberries

    1 tablespoon of white oak bark

    1 teaspoon of Echinacea root

    1 teaspoon of granulated Oregon grape root

  2. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the herbs and allow the mixture to sit for three to four hours.

  3. Pour the mixture through a strainer, keeping the liquid and discarding the rest.

Apply the antiseptic wash topically with a gauze pad. To treat dental abscesses, swish this mixture in your mouth for several minutes and then spit it out.

Boost your immune system with 30 drops each of Echinacea and yerba mansa tincture mixed into 1 cup of warm water. Drink a cup of this tonic three to five times daily. For additional immune support, adjust your diet, as necessary, and take one or more of the following nutritional supplements until your abscess heals:

Supplement Dosage
Echinacea root (4:1 extract) 150 mg three times daily for up to two weeks
Whole beta glucan particle 500 mg twice daily
Proline‐rich polypeptides 4 sprays in mouth, hold for 30 seconds and swallow, twice daily
early morning and before bed for a total of 16 mg daily
Vitamin C (mineral ascorbates) 1,500 mg three times a day
Argentyn 23 bioactive colloidal silver hydrosol 1 dropper full in mouth for 30 seconds and then swallow, two to
three times daily

Most abscesses progress to a head and then spontaneously rupture. If the infection becomes more severe, it may spread into deeper tissue and a fever may ensue. If symptoms worsen or don’t improve in a couple of days, consult your doctor, who may lance the abscess to promote drainage and prescribe antibiotics.

If you’re given a prescription for antibiotics, take a quality probiotic containing 5 billion CFU (culture forming units) of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Rosell four hours after each dose of antibiotic.

People with immune systems weakened by diabetes, AIDS, cancer, or chemotherapy are more prone to abscesses than others. In addition, alcohol abuse and intravenous drug use increase the risk for developing an abscess. Additional risk factors include skin‐to‐skin contact with an abscess, poor hygiene, and compromised peripheral circulation.

Treating boils and carbuncles

You can treat small boils at home by applying warm compresses to relieve pain and promote drainage. The key to healing a boil is to soften it so that the bacteria and infection can drain out of the inflamed area. Apply the warm compress 20 minutes four times daily. Use a clean towel or compress each time to avoid spreading the infection. After touching a boil, wash your hands and launder any clothing or linens that come in contact with it.

Here are some additional natural cures for boils:

  • Neem (Indian lilac): Grind a handful of neem leaves to form a paste and apply to the boil several times daily.

  • Black seed: For a painful boil, grind black seeds to form a paste and apply to the infected boil several times daily.

  • Tea tree oil: Using a cotton swab or cotton ball, apply tea tree oil ­several times daily until the boil heals.

  • Turmeric: Take 1.5 g by capsule twice daily.

  • Turmeric and ginger paste: Make a paste with 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, apply it to the boil, and cover with a breathable bandage. Change several times daily.

  • Onion: Place a slice of onion over the boil, cover it with a breathable bandage, and let it dry out the boil. (Onions have antiseptic as well as antimicrobial properties.)

  • Whole beta glucan: Take 500 mg twice daily to prime and mobilize the cells that support the body’s first line of defense.

  • Vitamin C (mineral ascorbates): Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.

In rare instances, a boil infection can spread to the blood, causing sepsis — a whole‐body infection. Sepsis can affect your heart as well as every organ system in your body and needs to be taken seriously. Seek medical care if the boil appears on your face, is extremely painful, is accompanied by fever, is larger than two inches in diameter, or has lasted longer than two weeks.