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Jane Bates: Blessings that banished boils

We may live in times of political uncertainty but thanks to improvements in hygiene, at least we don’t have to suffer the indignity of painful boils, says Jane Bates.
boil

We may live in times of political uncertainty but thanks to improvements in hygiene, at least we dont have to suffer the indignity of painful boils, says Jane Bates

With the current political uncertainty, at least we can be thankful for something nowadays we rarely get boils. This occurred to me when someone described a puss-filled, painful excrescence which had arisen around a hair follicle, and they didnt know what it was.

When I was a child, boils or furuncles to give them their proper name were commonplace, often cropping up in embarrassing places, preventing you from sitting down. Throbbing, angry and red, they also favoured the nose, especially when you had an interview, or were going on a date.

There was something of the Old Testament

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We may live in times of political uncertainty but thanks to improvements in hygiene, at least we don’t have to suffer the indignity of painful boils, says Jane Bates

 

boil
Improved hygiene has brought about a decline in boils. Picture: iStock

With the current political uncertainty, at least we can be thankful for something – nowadays we rarely get boils. This occurred to me when someone described a puss-filled, painful excrescence which had arisen around a hair follicle, and they didn’t know what it was.  

When I was a child, boils – or furuncles to give them their proper name – were commonplace, often cropping up in embarrassing places, preventing you from sitting down. Throbbing, angry and red, they also favoured the nose, especially when you had an interview, or were going on a date. 

There was something of the Old Testament about them – they seemed like a fearful punishment, as though something with the size and attitude of Mount Vesuvius had invaded your skin.

Modern plumbing

Just when you had suffered enough, along came the remedy. Antibiotics were sparingly used then, so the first line of treatment was a steaming poultice to draw out the infection, making Mount Vesuvius even hotter and angrier. 

You imagined your whole body would erupt any moment, then it was lanced. Just a nick with a scalpel to let out the pus, but the word suggested something the size of a javelin being plunged into the depths of the pain. Which is just how it felt.  

Improved hygiene has brought about the decline of the boil, so let’s count our blessings. We may live in uncertain times but thank goodness for modern plumbing, and for good old body scrub. 


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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