Boils under the skin are one of the primary symptoms of the skin condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa. This is a surprisingly common disorder, affecting approximately one percent of the adult population. These, however, are the known cases, and it is possible that the actual figure is much higher than this.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a condition that usually affects the groin and armpits first, and these are areas that some people would be embarrassed to discuss or show to a doctor. This means that the actual number of cases will be higher than the current diagnosed figure, and it is currently estimated that up to four percent of adults may be affected.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is sometimes known by the names acne inversa, or apocrine cysts. All three of these refer to exactly the same condition. It is recognisable by the development of cysts and boils, along with a distinctive, unpleasant smell that is the result of the pus being broken down by bacteria on the skin.
It is possible to use antibiotics and other prescribed medications to reduce the symptoms of this condition, but many patients instead choose to use a selection of natural remedies. The majority of treatments for hidradenitis suppurativa are topical, which means that they are applied directly to the affected regions of the skin. You may need to try several different treatments in order to establish what is going to be most effective for you, as people will often respond to treatments in different ways. No two cases are exactly alike.
• Topical antibiotics, in the form of either a cream or a gel, are what you will probably be given if you visit your doctor. Clindamycin and erythromycin are the two that are most frequently used. These reduce the number of bacteria that are present on your skin, helping to eliminate the smell and minimise both the extent and the size of the abscesses. However, these can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance, which means that, after a while, the medications will no longer be effective. Once this has occurred, stronger medications will be needed in order to have the same effect on your symptoms. It is best to try to avoid antibiotic use as much as possible.
• Tea tree oil is one of the most effective natural treatments when it comes to controlling the symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa. It is an antimicrobial substance that will have a similar effect to antibiotics, preventing infection and the growth of bacteria. However, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, so it will help to reduce the swelling that is usually associated with abscesses and cysts, helping to alleviate the pain. Tea tree oil should be diluted with water if you have not used it before, and then applied directly to all of the affected areas using cotton wool. Repeat this at least twice a day, and you should soon start to see improvements in the symptoms. Once your skin has become accustomed to the substance, you can increase the strength of the solution, or even use it undiluted.
• Aloe vera is another topical treatment that can be used to reduce the pain and swelling around the abscesses. It is a treatment that has been used for thousands of years to encourage the healing of wounds and help to prevent infections. It is antimicrobial, so will kill some of the bacteria that are present on the surface of the skin, preventing them from acting on the pus and producing the smell. It will also reduce the size and extent of the abscesses, relieving the pressure that builds up under the skin and reducing your need for painkillers. It can also slow or prevent the progression of the disease.