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From Skin Boils to Pimples to Warts to Moles: What Exactly is That Stuff on Your Skin?


We've all likely experienced this at some point: you wake up, most likely on the morning of a big presentation or an important date (not on a day you plan spending doing laundry or having a Grey's Anatomy marathon), get out of bed, and pad to the bathroom to brush your teeth and wash your face.


Washing your face regularly is one of the best ways to keep one of the most common skin complaints -- acne -- at bay.

You look in the mirror and instead of seeing your usually gorgeous reflection, you see IT -- a red, ugly, nasty pimple where there was none only the night before, threatening to ruin not only your day, but possibly your life as well.

The initial reaction is usually the same: "Where did this come from and how fast can I get rid of it?" Fortunately, the majority of skin ailments are fairly common and have a variety of over-the-counter or natural treatments available. However, there are some that are more dangerous and need a doctor's care.

A little knowledge will go a long way in helping to distinguish which is which and how best to treat it.

Double, Double, Boil and Trouble -- Common Skin Ailments and Their Treatments


Boils are painful, pus-filled bumps that form under your skin when bacteria infect and
inflame one or more of your hair follicles. Typically starting out as red, tender bumps, they quickly fill with pus, growing larger and more painful until they rupture and drain.

While some boils vanish within a few days, most take about two weeks to heal. Boils can occur anywhere on your body but are most likely to appear on your face, thighs, neck, armpits, and bottom, basically any hair-bearing areas where you're most likely to sweat and experience friction. While boils can happen to anyone, those with diabetes, a suppressed immune system, acne, or other skin diseases are more at risk than others.

You can usually care for a boil at home by applying a warm washcloth soaked in salt water for 10 minutes every few hours. This will help the boil to rupture and drain. You can also try Quret Drawing Salve. Since 1918 Quret's all-natural formula has been safely and effectively providing long-term relief for nearly any skin eruption.

Skin boils are extremely painful and unsightly, and left untreated they can become severely infected and cause other serious health problems. But most boil medications only provide pain relief. Quret has been found to gently and safely draw out boils, eliminate itching and promote faster healing.

As tempting as it might be, do not lance or squeeze the boil at any time, as that's a great way to spread infection.

If the boil occurs in conjunction with a fever or is stubborn enough to stick around for more than two weeks you should immediately consult with a doctor.


Warts are benign skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV for short.

The virus causes a rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of your skin. While harmless and often disappearing on their own, warts can be embarrassing or bothersome and can be treated easily with over-the -counter wart remover or freezing.

For more stubborn warts, your doctor can provide laser surgery, which can be expensive and leave a scar. Other treatments your doctor can provide are cantharadin, a substance extracted from the blister beetle that is painted onto the wart, covered with a bandage and then removed, and in some unresponsive cases, minor surgery However, as surgery is painful and can leave a scar, it is usually avoided if possible.

Papercut? Bug Bites? Skin Boils? Splinters? Quret!

Quret's Drawing Salve is an all-natural formula that has been safely and effectively providing long-term relief for nearly any skin eruption -- since 1918. Treating skin boils is Quret's most popular usage, but it's also extremely effective for:

  • Minor cuts/scrapes

  • Ingrown toenails

  • Insect bites/stings

  • Splinters

  • Papercuts

Learn more about Quret's Drawing Salve now!


Moles are clusters of pigmented cells that often emerge as small, dark, brown spots. They can come in a variety of colors, however, and can appear anywhere on your body. The majority of moles are harmless, but in some cases they can become cancerous.

Monitoring moles and other pigmented patches for any growth or shape change is important in detecting skin cancer, as many melanomas begin in or near a mole or other dark spot.

For a description of how to perform a skin self-examination to spot potentially harmful moles, see this past article. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends getting a yearly skin exam by your doctor, along with performing your own self-examination once a month.


While freckles may be the first cousin of moles in that they're both areas of increased pigment in the skin, they're not the same thing. While moles are raised and textured, freckles are small, flat spots on your skin that can vary from red to brown in color.

Not present at birth, freckles appear over time as the result of repeated sun exposure on areas hit most by the sun, such as the face and arms. Freckles are most common in those with light skin that burns easily.

Aside from a good concealer, there really is no treatment for freckles.


Acne is one of the most common and frustrating of all skin conditions. Plaguing everyone from babies to adults, acne has several primary causes:

  • Overproduction of oil (sebum) by the skin glands

  • Buildup of bacteria in the hair follicles

  • Irregular shedding of dead skin cells resulting in irritation of the hair follicles of your skin

Treatments for acne are many and varied. Everything from birth control pills to antibiotics to laser therapies and topical treatments are used to treat this frustrating and often chronic condition. They work by reducing oil production in the skin, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection, and reducing inflammation.

However, it has been found the best way to prevent and fight breakouts is to develop a healthy skin regime of regular face washing, makeup removal, wearing loose clothing, and regular showering.


Eczema driving you crazy? Try applying a cool washcloth or taking a cool bath to soothe the itch.

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is another common skin ailment that affects as many as 15 million Americans. In fact it is so prevalent that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eczema accounted for as many as 29.8 million visits to the dermatologist in 2005. So if you are one of those suffering from this condition, rest assured, you are far from alone.

Eczema is an itchy eruption of the skin. Unfortunately, it's a chronic condition that is often in conjunction with asthma and hay fever. While most often seen in infants, it can also develop later in life. Eczema is most likely to develop on your arms and on the backs of your knees, flaring up for periods of time then subsiding, oftentimes for years at a stretch. Eczema's exact trigger is still unknown, however it is thought to be caused by a malfunctioning immune system.

The biggest problem for those who suffer from this disease is the itchiness of the affected area. Using a heavy moisturizer and avoiding synthetic soaps and fragrances that irritate the skin can help. For relief you can also try:

  • Applying a cool, wet compress to the area

  • Taking a cool bath

  • Using a humidifier

  • Wearing smooth, cotton clothing

There are also several over-the-counter creams and moisturizers that are specifically designed to soothe and alleviate the symptoms of eczema. If at-home remedies are of no help, your doctor can prescribe topical medications and oral antihistamines to help relieve the itching and scaling and even recommend a round of light therapy to help ease the symptoms. Exposing your skin to natural sunlight outdoors may also help the condition.

The most important thing to remember if you happen to suffer from eczema is to avoid scratching, as you can actually spread the rash and cause further skin breakdown.

Recommended Reading

If You are Often Itchy, Beware: The Itch May be More Than Skin Deep

Emu Oil: The Amazing Arthritic Pain Relief Secret of the Australian Aborigines



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