How I Healed My Son’s Skin Infection (Without Antibiotics)

Here's how one mom was able to naturally heal infection without antibiotics – and how you can too!

This is a tale of how a mom can take charge of her family’s health.

It isn’t necessarily meant to read like a “how-to” (although you may find what I share useful), nor is it meant to make some sort of definitive statement about doctors and home remedies and antibiotics (although some may read that into it).

Rather, it is meant to be a descriptive story of one situation where I used a simple remedy to deal with a health concern that supposedly required medication.

Here’s the story

For a little while, I had noticed some small bumps on the back of my son’s leg. They were unlike anything I had seen before, but didn’t seem particularly alarming. As a couple of them grew slightly, I began to be mildly concerned. Baffled, I wondered if they were similar to a pimple or even a manifestation of some sort of inward toxicity, because my son is particularly sensitive to toxins and doesn’t handle them well. I tried looking on the internet to figure it out, but finally realized that I just had no idea and it was time to see a doctor when one became infected.

The doctor diagnosed the little bumps as something fairly benign, a type of wart-like virus common to children (passed around in swimming pools, on towels or soft toys, etc.) that is known as “mollescum contagium“. He also confirmed that the redness and pain he was experiencing around one bump was a deep infection— you could feel that it was a bit hard under the skin, which the doctor said was a pocket filling with infected pus.

The doctor recommended a round of oral antibiotics (which I wanted to avoid if at all possible, as they have very negative effects on digestion and gut flora). When I specifically asked about topical treatment instead, he told me that it was too deep to treat topically.

Oh, really?

Doctors everywhere, please don’t tell me things like that. I take it as a direct challenge. I set out to prove him wrong as soon as I got home.

Here's how one mom was able to naturally heal infection without antibiotics – and how you can too!

You can see two of the molluscum in this picture, with the one on the right clearly infected

How I treated the infection

I chose to treat it with a poultice of raw honey, activated charcoal and a few drops of tea tree oil.

Why I chose my particular arsenal of ingredients from my natural medicine cabinet:

  • Activated charcoal powder. It draws out toxins extremely well and can eliminate harmful bacteria as well. This video that I watched last year came to mind as I considered whether I would use charcoal and how I would do it.
  • Raw honey. I needed something to make the charcoal into a paste with (otherwise it was just a powdery mess), and I chose raw honey because it also has antibacterial qualities and has been known to help heal other types of infections.
  • Tea tree essential oil. For its antiseptic and antiviral qualities. I had also found a helpful blog post sharing how one women (and many others in the comments) had used tea tree oil for treating mollescum contagium.

This mixture was a bit goopy and gross looking, and he didn’t love the feel of it on his skin, but then again, he didn’t like having a painful infection either. I made it clear that I knew he didn’t like it, but I really wanted to help the owie on his skin, and he consented, because I guess the owie felt worse than the goopy poultice.

Here's how one mom was able to naturally heal infection without antibiotics – and how you can too!

At first, I used gauze pads so that I could cover a larger area, because the infection was spread out beyond the initial site where it began (it was about an inch in diameter). Gradually, I switched over to bandaids, once the infected area started to shrink.

Within a day or two, I could see that it was slightly less red and inflamed looking.

Within a few more days, it was definitely smaller in size, and the hard area under the skin was also much smaller. It wasn’t causing as much pain anymore (though it was still somewhat painful).

The second week, it continued to decrease in pain, redness and size. At this point, I wasn’t being quite as on-the-ball with the poultices. I began changing them less often and I moved to just a band-aid with a bit of the mixture, and occasionally, just with a herbal healing salve instead of the black sticky mess that the charcoal made.

We definitely missed a few days days, and sometimes he took the bandaids or poultice off because they were bugging him (although he was a very good sport overall).

At the 2-3 week point, it looked as though the infection was entirely gone and just a small mark remained where it had been. Now, at the 4 week mark, you can’t even tell he had it at all. The skin looks completely healed. (And I’m sorry I don’t have a picture to show you- I forgot to take one until today and found my camera battery dead).

What I am (and am not) saying in this post

I can already hear some of the comments, so I’m going to address them proactively:

1. I am not saying that we should avoid doctors or that their suggestions should necessarily be ignored. There are times when conventional medical treatment is the right course of action, but I think it can be helpful to ask ourselves some good questions before making a decision for either natural OR conventional treatment. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly appreciated the quick and accurate diagnosis the doctor provided, which I had not been able to figure out on my own.

2. Antibiotics are not the enemy. They are overused, abused, and are causing problems as a result of reckless prescription. Much of the time, infections could be treated more naturally or simply be allowed to run their course for a full recovery in a similar period of time. And yet sometimes, antibiotics are invaluable and even life-saving. I’m not opposed to antibiotics. I’m grateful to live in a time and place when they are available for us when we need them. But that’s the key word… need.

3. Home remedies can, and often do, work as well or better than many prescription/allopathic medications. They’re not something to mess around with, though, particularly if you’re not sure what you’re doing. I’ve been studying alternative health and natural remedies for years, and as a result, I feel comfortable treating many of our family’s ailments. It’s worth noting, though, that before I took this infection on, I had it diagnosed so that I knew clearly what I was dealing with. My husband and I also had a conversation where we agreed that if it didn’t show signs of improving within a couple of days (we set a specific date) then we would reconsider filling the prescription for the antibiotics.

Here's how one mom was able to naturally heal infection without antibiotics – and how you can too!

Do you have a story of healing with a home remedy? I hope you’ll share it.


About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. You were lucky that deep infection didn’t get into his entire system. I’m a fan of home remedies as well but 3 weeks with a deep infection is risking turning septic or into cellulitis, (serious as mrsa) or mrsa. I’m glad it all worked out so well for him. Honey and charcoal makes sense for the paste,thanks for sharing that one.

  2. Gale Smith says:

    I have used essential oils and other homeopathic remedies many times, my favorite was clearing up poison ivy on my godchild. He calls me the “witch doctor” but when he is getting sick or needs help he will call or text me and tell me he needs my voodoo mixes. I usually send him off to college with a variety of oils that he can use for different minor things. However, I myself still need antibiotics to fight some things. I believe all medicines can work together for the betterment of our health.

  3. thanks for posting. i think natural remedies are so much better for us if possible.

  4. linda wolfe says:

    Now if only the upper part of the infection has healed over and treatment has not driven the infection even deeper all is good. Drs only recommend antibiotics when necessary any more and since he suggested oral he was trying to stop it before it could go septic. There are natural things, yogurt and such to help with adverse effects of antibiotics. Having had a natural treatment as you suggested, given to my son by his grandmother instead of keeping the drs apt I had made, 2 months later I was taking him daily to have the site where the dr had to open a half inch deep drain site and stuff it will treated antibiotic tape so that it wouldn’t heal over again and continue to spread the infection wo any outward signs of infection. Pretending I know what I am doing on myself is one thing, endangering my child is quite another. Look up septicemia pray it doesn’t go that far. Your first clue should have been the surrounding area of redness, swelling and some pain. Your second that the doctor didn’t open it and use a triantibiotic ointment and three is not returning him to the doctor for a check-up and telling exactly what you did and for how long.

  5. Are you saying you got rid of the original bumps completely? My son has this and I’ve been through the same doctor visit. They have spread a bit (more bumps cropping up on his foot and back of leg on same side) and I’d really like to get rid of them, benign or not. They haven’t been infected. So you’re saying I could possibly get rid of them completely by trying this poultice? I have everything but the charcoal, so I’ll probably try it. Thanks!

  6. Janet Evans says:

    I think you did a great job. I totally agree with your philosophy, my grandson has a horrible time with his skin. He has been told it is eczema, but we think it might be psoriasis. I used Melaluca bath oil on him when he was little and it seemed to help. It has tea tree oil in it. He definitely need some kind of safe skin cream. Do you have any ideas?

  7. I have a chronic disease called Hidradenitis Suppurativa and have been put through the ringer with different medications. I am now only taking a pain medication since none of the traditional methods helped. It is an incurable disease but there are things I’ve done to relieve some of the pain. I use Acedic Acid (white vinegar) several times a day on the abscesses, I use epson salts with baking soda in a paste, I soak in a sitz bath with peroxide and hot water, etc…all of these things have done more for more than any antibiotic. I am going to try the charcoal paste you described above. I have tried a pulling salve called Prid, it seems similar to yours, but it’s so thick and hard that it’s difficult to cover the areas. Thank you for posting this. Keep the natural ideas coming. :D

  8. You are lucky the infection was not systemic, because treating topically would not have helped and you may have made the situation worse by not treating rapidly.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I have tired everything amd the only think I have found that works is apple cider vinegar. Problem is it stings! I have used tea tree oil with not much of a outcome but never tired charcoal. My sons chest and belly are covered amd I have been fighting this for a long time now.

  10. Bravo & Good for you !! My father always tried the Old Italian remedies first, and they most often worked. We overuse antibiotics and they have become less effective as the infections mutate and become resistant . Antibiotics are incredible and have saved many lives, but we should really weigh all the options first ! Thanks for sharing !

  11. I realize this is an older post but if any natural minded moms see this, I could use some advice. My son seems to get recurrent infections in his diaper area. We’re fairly certain that it is bacteria rather than yeast because of the swelling. He has a tendency to pull the skin off his penis during diaper changes and especially first thing in the morning when the skin may be more soft and moist. It really don’t want to do another course of antibiotics. Any tips for treating the infection topically?

    • Bethany, I had this same problem with my baby boy and my solution was a warm bath and lots of fresh air to the penis. Also, frequent changes of diapers to keep the penis as dry as possible. I bathed him twice a day and let him run around ( read crawl ) butt naked and this also helped. My doctor wanted some strange cream put on his penis and it was difficult to wash off and created more problems than it was worth. I chucked it and went natural. But having said that please don’t hesitate to see your doctor, especially if things don’t improve. I hope this helps.

    • Bethany, I know that initially you will think this is too weird to do but my family has been using it for years and years. Corona. It’s a very thick salve that farmers put on the teets of their cows when they have had a calf and the calf suckling makes the teets raw/chapped and sore. Happens mostly in the winter time. The active ingredient is lanolin. You can use it on boys and girls in the diaper area. No worries about it getting too close to openings. Just slather it on. You can buy it in places like farm and ranch places that sell farm animal feeds and tractor supply stores or a large animal vet. Yes, I grew up as an Oklahoma country girl :) Like I said though, it isn’t going to hurt a thing. I still use it all the time on my grand babies, myself, anyone with a skin ailment of some kind.

    • linda wolfe says:

      cloth diapers, change every time damp during the day, every six hours at night. corn starch helps sprinkled on the diaper or, if dr allows wet use otc rash cream. plenty of fluids to dilute urine. remove damp diapers as often as needed. a decade ago we went through a load of cloth diapers a day. Use Dreft for baby diapers. Vinegar in rinse water no other softener in case you are looking at possible allergy reactions also. Cool water liberally to rinse to remove urine when changing diapers. Talk to your pharmacy for suggestions.

  12. Hello! I’ve stumbled upon this post and have started to try making a poultice as described here; so far, I’ve been having good results (I haven’t been doing it for long; just a few days). I had a quick question…do you leave the solution on or do you rinse it out eventually (how long would you keep it on)? The answer should be obvious, but I was trying to get a rough estimate of the maximum time required to keep the solution on the skin for maximum effectiveness. I’ve been rinsing it off after about three hours or so (though I left it on overnight one day). Any information you have would be really helpful. Thanks!

  13. Cresta Randolph says:

    My youngest son was diagnosed with this about a year ago I was told by my DR not to worry eventually they go away on there own and to just wait. Luckily we haven’t one become infected but my question would be did this clear them up all the way or just draw out the infection? I am getting the stuff so I have it on hand in case of infection but it cleared it up I want to start treating it asap! Thanks so much!!

  14. I had a horrible skin infection on my shin that, over a period of months, came to erode the flesh in my leg (leaving deep golfball-sized indentations) and was often warm to the touch. After some failed Dr. visits I did some research on-line, ordered the best raw Manuka honey I could find from New Zealand, an and applied it as a poultice.

    Within one week all that remained was a discoloration, and now (after about 3 years) even that has vanished.

    Needless to say, I’m sold on Manuka honey!

  15. My son has molluscum and the doctors told me that there is nothing that they can do for him and just let the virus take its course. I asked how long that could be and he said anywhere from 3months to years. I’ve also read that tea tree oil helps so I have been doing that I have noticed a difference but he complains that it hurts. Maybe I will use the charcoal/honey once a day to see if that will help as well.

    Thank you for posting this. This came at a perfect time for me. Thank you!

  16. Would this work for eczema infection as well?? Trying to figure out what to use on my sons cheek. It is infected. They prescribed a steroid and antibioitcs which I want to avoid if possible.

  17. I was skeptical when I clicked on this link via Pinterest, but pleasantly surprised.
    I was braced for a rant on the evils of modern medicine and antibiotics ruining our bodies etc etc etc
    What I found was a well written, well thought out, logical and rational treatment plan with a great attitude towards conventional medicine and doctoring.

    I plan to follow more of your work now I have seen this. Well done!

  18. Christina says:

    Not too long after starting my son @ a new daycare he developed a rash that looked very similar to your child’s. It took 5 doctors and 1 nurse practitioner to figure out what he had. Coxsackie (Foot, mouth disease) very common for kids potty training as they’re little legs hang on the side of the toilet. They can sometimes get a fever and lesions in the back of the throat. The bumps itch and get very red. They prescribed a cortizone which i seriously did not appreciate using as we all know they contain steroids. I tried calomine, even pure vitamin e cream.
    The rash has now turned into Ezxema and the only thing that keeps it away is daily rubbings of vaselin. He doesnt seem to mind now but im sure he will come summer.
    The dermatologist said he will likely grow out of it.


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