UNDERNEATH the skin is a layer of tissue composed chiefly of cells. From this tissue there are small elevations, in the shape of cones, which rise up into the substance of the true skin. Like those papillae of the skin which become inflamed and produce corns, these elevations are subject to an inflammation, which causes boils.
At first, a tender knot or hardness is felt just under the skin, which soon begins to look red. A painful tumor now begins to show itself, of a dusky red or purple color, which acquires the size of a pea, a hazel nut or a walnut. Some time between the fourth and eighth day it becomes pointed and white at the top, when the scarf skin gives way, and lets out a little pus mixed with blood, and exposes to view a mass of dead matter, called a core, which is too large for the opening, and is not ready to come away, if it were not. This core is a mass of mortified or dead flesh; and nature is cutting a space around it, that it may be thrown off. In two or three more days, it comes away, leaving a cup like cavity, which gradually fills up, and the boil is over.
Some constitutions yield boils in successive crops. Men this hap pens they are a terrible affliction. There are not many Jobs who can bear them with patience.
Treatment. A boil will generally run its course. A five grain blue pill, taken at bed time, when the boil is first showing itself, is about the only thing I know that will blast it. And yet, my unwillingness to encourage a general use of mercurials makes me hesitate to recommend it. One pill, not to be repeated, can do no harm, however, and may safely be taken.
Boils may sometimes be stopped by touching them with lunar caustic. Water dressing, if used early, and persevered in, will sometimes prevent their growing, larger than a pea. After the boil has opened, apply poultices for a day or two, then some simple, stimulating ointment, as basilicon salve, or Turner's cerate, or nitric acid lotion (314). If boils continue to come out in successive crops, give alterative medicines, or sulphurous mineral waters, or liquor potassae or bicarbonate of soda. General tonic treatment, with iron, quinine, etc., is usually required (65), (75).
A pill containing 1/2 grain of sulphide of calcium three times a day and continuing for several months, while not able to cure the boil which is forming, will in a great measure prevent the appearance of others.
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