From unsightly boils to life-threatening infections, Staphylococcus bacteria can cause you a whole lot of problems. There are over 30 kinds of staph, but Staphylococcus aureus is usually the culprit when it comes to most staph infections. You can catch this germ by touching a contaminated item like a towel or other clothing or by directly touching infected skin. Staphylococcus can, incidentally, live harmlessly on the skin of people. But when you get a cut or wound, things can take a turn for the worse.
When you are hurt and break your skin, these bacteria may enter through the break and cause an infection. Staph infections usually take the form of skin infections, leading to boils or pimples, often filled with pus. There may also be some swelling, redness, and pain. And in some cases, the infection can go deeper and affect your blood, bones, joints, brain, heart, or lungs. Which is why it’s a good idea to treat it promptly. Staph infections are usually treated with antibiotics but minor infections can be dealt with at home with some natural remedies.1 2
1. Drain Boils With A Warm Compress
The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria commonly cause pus-filled boils on your skin. Applying a clean, wet, warm washcloth to a boil for 20–30 minutes 3 to 4 times a day can help drain out the pus. After the boil drains, use a clean bandage to absorb any remaining pus that drains as well as to protect your skin. Also make sure that you use a good antibacterial soap to wash the area to stop the infection from spreading.3
2. Dress With Antibacterial Manuka Honey
Honey has potent antimicrobial properties. Manuka honey, obtained from bees that feed on the Manuka bush, is especially known for its antibacterial properties. Many factors work in combination to help honey inhibit microbes and fight infection – a high sugar content, beneficial phytochemicals, low water content, and hydrogen peroxide. Manuka honey has an additional benefit. It contains high levels of a compound called dihydroxyacetone which produces methylglyoxal, a chemical with antibacterial properties. Research has found that Manuka honey is effective against Staphylococcus bacteria and can even work against an antibiotic-resistant strain known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). And here’s the clincher – Manuka honey may even help antibiotics work better!
How to use: Dressings with medical grade Manuka honey can be used to help heal wounds and keep them infection free.4
3. Apply A Paste Of Infection-Busting Turmeric
Turmeric, the spice which gives curry that lovely golden color, is well known for its antibacterial properties. And Southeast Asian communities have traditionally used this powerful spice to sort out minor infections. Lab studies have also found that curcumin, a compound present in turmeric, is effective against Staphylococcus aureus.5
How to use: Grind turmeric with a little water to make a fine paste. This paste can be applied to wounds and boils to heal them.6
4. Treat Cuts And Infections With Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, which comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, has been long used by aboriginal Australians to treat skin infections and cuts. It works against a broad range of germs and has been found to be lethal to Staphylococcus aureus. The antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil is primarily attributed to a component known as terpinen-4-ol. So try this potent essential oil for treating staph infections7
How to use: Traditionally, crushed tea tree leaves were applied to cuts and infections to treat them. Tea tree oil can also be used topically for this purpose. But, though this essential oil is safe for topical application, some people may be allergic to it. So it makes sense to do a patch test on a small part of your skin first before you use it.8
5. Juice A Lime To Prevent Infection
Here’s another common item that you probably have at home which can be used to tackle a staph infection – lime juice. According to research, undiluted lime juice works well against Staphylococcus aureus.9
6. Inhibit Staph With Garlic
Turns out that Dracula’s not the only monster to fear this ordinary spice! Garlic can kill common germs too. In fact, it was widely used during the 1st World War to disinfect wounds. Garlic extract, specifically the compounds diallyl sulfide and diallyl disulfide which are formed in garlic, can inhibit and kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is resistant to antibiotics.12
How to use: The juice of garlic can be applied to boils to heal them. Eating a few cloves of garlic can also be helpful in dealing with an infection from within 13
7. Use Natural Antibiotic Eucalyptus Oil
Australian aborigines first discovered the healing powers of eucalyptus. And lab studies have shown that eucalyptus oil has an antimicrobial effect on Staphylococcus aureus. This antibacterial effect is primarily due to a compound called 1,8-cineole or eucalyptol, though this essential oil has many other bioactive constituents too.14
How to use: Eucalyptus essential oil can be diluted and applied topically to treat skin infections.15 But do note that this remedy might not be advisable for children below the age of two or for pregnant or nursing women.16
8. Try Witch Hazel To Combat Infection
Witch hazel is another ancient remedy used to combat infection and stem bleeding in wounds. So, how does it work? Staphylococci use a system known as quorum-sensing for cell to cell communication. This enables it to regulate the expression of its genes according to the density of its population. Without quorum-sensing, its population cannot communicate or coordinate behavior as a group in its host (that’s you!). Research has found that hamamelitannin, a compound present in the bark of witch hazel, can inhibit quorum sensing. This can help it suppress staphylococcal infections.17 In addition to its antibacterial properties, it can also lessen inflammation and stem bleeding.
How to use: Traditionally, a poultice of the bark and leaves of witch hazel was applied to treat wounds and fight infection.18 You can also soak a cotton pad in some witch hazel extract and apply this to the wound.
9. Apply A Goldenseal Poultice
Goldenseal has been used through the ages to treat skin infections and sores. Its traditional use is backed up by science. Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine which is known for its antibacterial properties. And research has found that this herb can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus.19
How to use: Apply a poultice made from goldenseal root powder paste for boils or skin infections.20
10. Treat Boils With Tulsi Leaf Juice
Tulsi or holy basil is valued for its medicinal properties in ayurveda. It has a wide array of beneficial compounds and can inhibit a range of harmful pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus.21
How to use: Grind tulsi leaves with water and squeeze out the juice. Apply this juice to treat boils.22
See A Doctor In These Cases
Be sure to see a doctor if the boil or infection:
See a doctor even when you have minor wounds or injuries if you are diabetic. There’s always the risk of a cut or wound, however minor, not healing properly and turning into serious infections if you have diabetes.
- Becomes extremely red or sore.
- Is on your rectum, spine, groin, or face.
- Causes a lot of pain or fever.
- Makes it difficult for you to move.
- Causes skin nearby skin to swell, become discolored, or develop red streaks.
- Doesn’t improve after a period of 3 to 7 days of home treatment.
- Recurs frequently. You may need to rule out a problem with your immune system.23 24
|↑1||Staphylococcal Infections. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Staph Infections. The Nemours Foundation.|
|↑3, ↑23||Boils and Carbuncles. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑4||Can honey fight superbugs like MRSA?. National Health Service.|
|↑5||Teow, Sin-Yeang, Kitson Liew, Syed A. Ali, Alan Soo-Beng Khoo, and Suat-Cheng Peh. “Antibacterial action of curcumin against Staphylococcus aureus: a brief review.” Journal of tropical medicine 2016 (2016).|
|↑6||Sairam, Trimurti V. Home Remedies: Vol. 1. Penguin UK, 2000.|
|↑7||Cox, S. D., C. M. Mann, J. L. Markham, H. C. Bell, J. E. Gustafson, J. R. Warmington, and S. G. Wyllie. “The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil).” Journal of applied microbiology 88, no. 1 (2000): 170-175.|
|↑8||Tea Tree. University of Michigan.|
|↑9||Onyeagba, R. A., O. C. Ugbogu, C. U. Okeke, and O. Iroakasi. “Studies on the antimicrobial effects of garlic (Allium sativum Linn), ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and lime (Citrus aurantifolia Linn).” African Journal of Biotechnology 3, no. 10 (2004): 552-554.|
|↑10||Rector-Page, Linda G. Linda Page’s Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-healing for Everyone. Healthy Healing, Inc., 2000.|
|↑11||William, Anthony. Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods: Save Yourself and the Ones You Love with the Hidden Healing Powers of Fruits & Vegetables. Hay House, 2016.|
|↑12||Tsao, Shyh-ming, Cheng-chin Hsu, and Mei-chin Yin. “Garlic extract and two diallyl sulphides inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in BALB/cA mice.” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 52, no. 6 (2003): 974-980.|
|↑13||Bakhru, H. K. Natural Home Remedies for Common Ailments. Orient Paperbacks, 1996.|
|↑14||Bachir, Raho G., and Mechaal Benali. “Antibacterial activity of the essential oils from the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.” Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine 2, no. 9 (2012): 739-742.|
|↑15||Editors at Reader’s Digest . Doctors’ Favorite Natural Remedies: The Safest and Most Effective Natural Ways to Treat More Than 85 Everyday Ailments. Simon and Schuster, 2016.|
|↑16||Eucalyptus. University of Maryland.|
|↑17||Kiran, Madanahally D., Nallini Vijayarangan Adikesavan, Oscar Cirioni, Andrea Giacometti, Carmela Silvestri, Giorgio Scalise, Roberto Ghiselli et al. “Discovery of a quorum-sensing inhibitor of drug-resistant staphylococcal infections by structure-based virtual screening.” Molecular pharmacology 73, no. 5 (2008): 1578-1586.|
|↑18||Witch Hazel. University of Michigan.|
|↑19||Knight, Sherilynn Eddy. “Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) versus penicillin: a comparison of effects on Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” Bios (1999): 3-10.|
|↑20||Murray, Michael T., and Joseph Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster, 2012.|
|↑21||Vasudevan, D. M., R. Kedlaya, S. Deepa, and M. Ballal. “Activity of Ocimum sanctum (the traditional Indian medicinal plant) against the enteric pathogens.” Indian journal of medical sciences 55, no. 8 (2001): 434-8.|
|↑22||Goel, Satish. Nature Cure For Health And Happiness. Diamond Pocket Books, 1997.|
|↑24||Murray, Michael T., and Joseph Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition. Simon and Schuster, 2012.|