Why Do I Keep Getting Boils on My
Vulva? --- Causes and Cures
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January 9, 2015

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Boils can occur anywhere on your body, including in your
nose  --- yikes ---but among women, one of the most
worrying areas are boils that occur in the vaginal area, often
on the lips of the vagina (labia).

Boils --- called  “carbuncles” when they appear in clusters or
occur repeatedly --- are caused by the staphylococcus
aureus bacteria. In the U.S.,  31.6 % of people in the US
suffer from staph colonizations, according to a 2006 study
led by Dr. Philip Graham of Columbia University.

The staph bacteria is very hearty, able to live on surfaces for
hours or even days.

The usual entry point of the staph bacteria is down a hair
shaft and into your skin but it can as easily be caused by a
cut.  Sufferers often report  that they start to get boils more
frequently once they start to exercise more often. Part of the
reason for this is that, when you exercise, there is more
friction of material against your skin, and hence a higher
chance that you’ll have tiny cuts in your skin. Women who
exercise sometimes report a higher number of vaginal boils
on the labia (lips), partly because underwear can irritate the
labia and thus create a scrape or tiny cut through which
staphylococcus bacteria can enter.

First things first. Vaginal boils must be treated by a doctor.
The reason you should not try treating a vaginal boil at home
is that the staph bacteria can spread, enter your blood
stream and cause sepsis -- blood poisoning.

But, in addition to seeing your doctor, are there any natural
remedies which may help lower your risk for having
recurrent boils or which may help in healing the boils you

Are Boils and MRSA Caused by the Same Bacteria?

Both boils and MRSA are caused by staphylococcus aureus.  
The only difference is that MRSA is caused by a type of staph
infection that is resistant to the methicillin penicillin. The
acronym “MRSA” in fact stands for “methicillin resistant
staphylococcus aureus”.  

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that about
1% of the US population is affected by MRSA. The most
common areas where you are likely to get this form of staph
infection are places where there is skin-to-skin contact and
where there are crowds.

For example, the CDC handled a MRSA outbreak in 1993 to
1994 among members of a men’s high school wrestling team
in southern Vermont. A 2004 study led by the Connecticut
Board of Health documented cases of MRSA outbreak among
football players which were facilitated by the habit of
shaving their bodies and from getting “turf” burns when
they fell on astroturf. In 2005,  a football team in Los
Angeles experienced a severe breakout of MRSA which first
showed up as boils on their elbows. The Los Angeles County
Department of Health Services and the Centers of Disease
Control traced the outbreak to one player whose towels
were then shared by other players.

These are just a few selected cases of MRSA outbreaks.
Unfortunately, these outbreaks are becoming increasingly
common. The CDC reports that other breakouts happen
often in hospitals, team sports facilities, schools, dormitories,
military barracks, gyms, households of more than one
person, correctional facilities, daycare centers, farms  and
veterinary clinics.

Why Do Some People Get Boils More Than Others?

As we humans have evolved over the past 70,000 years or
so, so too have the bacteria and viruses that “hitchhike” on
us.  The staph bacteria is one of the most common infections
known to us humans. Almost all of us have staphylococcus
bacteria on our skin throughout our lives and are never
bothered by it.

But if almost all of us have the staph bacteria hitchhiking on
our skins, why do some people develop boils and others do

Some scientists think they have a possible answer. In 2008,
scientists from Sophia Children’s Hospital and Erasmus MC,
University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands set out
to understand the connection between certain genes and the
susceptibility of some people to recurrent staph infections, a
process known as long-term bacterial colonization.

What these scientists discovered was that, in order to
survive long-term in your body and cause repeated
infections, the staph bacteria and your body must cooperate.
As the scientists noted: “Apparently, a close interaction
between host and bacterial determinants are prerequisites
for long-term colonization.”

People who carry two particular genes, the  “CFH 402  Tyr
allele” and the “CRP (1184-2042-2911) C-C-G haplotype”
most often are carriers of the staph bacteria.

In addition to those who are genetically predisposed to be
good hosts for the staph bacteria hitchhiker, other factors
that put you at higher risk for staph infections are being in a
high risk environment (the group settings such as
dormitories, gyms and hospitals), having a weakened
immune system, smoking, being diabetic or having poorly
controlled blood sugar.

Stress Also Makes Some People More Susceptible to Boils

Stress also makes you more vulnerable to staph infections.
In general, stress inhibits the healing of wounds infected by
staphylococcus, a 2002 study from The Ohio State University
led by Dr. Phillip Marucha found. The scientists studies two
groups of mice. One group was put under no stress. The
other group of mice were stressed out (put under
constraints and denied food and water). Both groups of
mice were then wounded and had their wounds exposed to
the staph bacteria.  The group of stressed mice experienced
high rates of infection in their wounds, and among the most
aggressive infections were the staphylococcus bacteria.

In fact, the levels of bacteria in the stressed out mice was
100,000 times higher than the bacteria levels in the calm

What this study proves is that stress is one of the most
powerful factors creating an inviting environment for
bacteria to infect any open wound on your body. High levels
of stress open the door, so to speak, and staph is an
aggressive, opportunistic bacteria that is unlikely to miss an
opportunity to enter those doors.

Do AntiBacterial Soaps Help?

Many medical authorities recommend the use of antibacterial
soaps to help healing of minor boils. However, at least one
study warns that such soaps are no more effective than
normal soaps in fighting staphylococcus. The study, led by
Stuart Ley of Tufts University found that antibacterial soap
and other antibacterial hygiene products simply do not affect
the carriage of staph bacteria on the hands of household

The takeaway here is that you should of course use soap but
that using soaps marketed as "antibacterial" will probably
not brig you the added protection they advertise.

Natural Remedies That Help Clear Up and Prevent Boils

Thyme Helps to Kill Resistant Staph Bacteria

The common spice thyme ( red thyme vulgaris) kills the
staphylococcus bacteria, even when that staph bacteria level
is at 5%, a 2012 study from Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in Cambridge (“MIT”) led by Dr. Nichol
Kavanaugh found.  The study examined the effectiveness of
certain essential oils ---  including thyme, cassia and
cinnamon ---  against bacteria which exist in “biofilms”.  
Biofilms are slimy encasements of bacteria that stick to
surfaces. The plaque on your teeth is an example of a
biofilm.  When bacteria cells exist in biofilms, they are much
more resistant to antibiotics and therefore harder to kill than
if they are stand-alone cells.  

The type of staph bacteria tested was resistant to two
powerful antibiotics,  oxacillin  and methicillin. But the staph
bacteria were no match for thyme essential oil. The essential
oil of red thyme was effective in “eradicating”
staphylococcus bacteria.

Clove Oil Kills Staph Bacteria

The MIT study also found that clove oil was effective in
killing staphylococcus bacteria even when encased in biofilm.
Again, the essential oil was more effective than antibiotics in
eradicating the staph bacteria.

Oregano Oil Kills Stand Alone Staph Bacteria

A 2004 study from Università di Messina in Italy discovered
that oregano oil inhibits the growth of staphylococcus. The
minimum concentration of organo which was effective was
0.06-0.125% v/v.

Tea Tree Oil Fights Staph Infection  

Several studies have demonstrated that tea tree oil is
effective in battling staphylococcus bacteria. Tea tree oil was
first used as a medicine by the Aboriginal tribes of Australia.
The dead leaves of the tea tree (M. alternifolia) landed in
lakes. These lakes came to be known as “healing lakes” .  
Over time, tea tree leaves were used by the Bundjalung
Aborigines for their antibacterial properties.  The tribes
would crush the tea leaves and inhale a steamed infusion to
cure colds or the solution was poured over wounds to speed

Tea tree oil attacks staph bacteria by damaging the bacteria's
cell wall and membrane, which  leads to “cell lysis, leakage of
cell contents, and inhibition of proton motive force”,
according to a 2006 study from The University of Western
Australia.  Tea tree oil also kills the bacteria without
increasing the staph bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics. This
is key because it means that  tea tree oil can be used as a
complement to any antibiotics.

Hydrogen Peroxide Kills Staphylococcus Bacteria

A 1981 study from Webb- Waring Lung Institute and the  
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center confirmed that
hydrogen peroxide kills staphylococcus bacteria.  In this
study, the scientists identified the pathway hydrogen
peroxide uses to degrade the staph bacteria. Hydrogen
peroxide kills the staph bacteria by reacting with
staphylococcal iron to form hydroxyl radical.

The bottom line on using natural remedies to fight vulva
boils is that they should be used to complement any
therapies your doctor advises.  To prevent the recurrence of
boils, you should maintain a strict hygiene routine of
showering at least once per day, avoiding touching your
vaginal area without first washing your hands, eating a diet
following a lifestyle that helps you lower stress. You
should consider adding thyme regularly to your meals and
perhaps also drink it as a tea.  

Remember the staph bacteria is one of the most
opportunistic bacteria.  If you find that you are experiencing
stress, take preventive steps to protect your vulva from a
staph attack by drinking more thyme tea than usual, washing
your vulva very carefully with warm water and soap and
taking extra precautions.  

Once per week, you should sanitize your vulva with a swab
of thyme oil and hydrogen peroxide to lower the level of
staph bacteria on the surface of your skin. When you're
under stress, swab your vulva gently once per day.

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and Cures /Tight Bras and Briefs-Health Dangers /Are Diet
Sodas Bad for Your Health?
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Thyme oil is effective in destroying
staph bacteria which causes boils.