Carbuncles - Dream Health

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Saturday 13 December 2014


Carbuncles – Cluster of Boils under the Skin

Carbuncle is a red, swollen and painful cluster of boils which are connected to each other in a group of hair follicles under the skin. It is an infection of a hair follicle having small collection of pus or abscess under the skin.

 Carbuncle usually is likely to occur on hairy area of the body like the back or nape of the neck though it could also develop in other areas of the body like the buttocks, thighs, armpits or groin. A person having carbuncle may have additional symptoms like high fever and may feel weak and exhausted.

Most of the cases are caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria or staph bacteria which usually live harmlessly on the surface of the skin or in the lining of the nose. If they get inside the skin they cause skin infection like boils.

They inhabit the skin surface, nasal passages and the throat and these bacteria could be the cause of the infection by entering the skin through a hair follicle, puncture, small scrape though at times there is no point of entry.

Boils are common in teenagers and young adults especially males, where young males, living in overcrowded and probably unhygienic conditions could be at risk of carbuncle. It is less common and could occur in middle aged or older men due to poor health of a pre-existing health condition like diabetes.

Likely to Leave Scars

To get healed, the carbuncles have to be drained which are filled with pus, a mixture of white and old blood cells, bacteria together with dead skin cells. Carbuncles are more likely to leave scars than boils.

An active boil or carbuncle is contagious and the infection can spread over to other parts of the body or to other people through the contact of skin or on sharing of personal items. Hence it is essential to ensure appropriate self-care measures such as maintaining clean area and covered, till the carbuncle gets drained and healed.

To manage,promote healing, minimize scarring and prevent carbuncles, medical treatment is essential. Should a person tend to have boils which persists for a more than a few days, they should contact the doctor at the earliest for timely treatment.

 Most of these boils can be treated successfully at home and one of the best means to speed up its recovery is to apply a warm facecloth to the boil three to four times a day and if it does not heal, the doctor may consider draining it.

Possibility of Developing Secondary Infection 

Boils or carbuncles should never be squeezed or pierced since it could cause the infection to spread leading to further complications. If the carbuncle should cause complications, a week long course of antibiotics may be recommended.

At times, the boils or carbuncles tend to return and in such instances, one may need further test to identify the problem and could be prescribed with antiseptic solution for removal of the bacteria from the skin. Though most of the boils tend to get better without much complication, some may tend to develop a secondary infection which could range from a relatively minor infection of the deeper layer of the skin like cellulitis, to rarer and more serious infection like blood poisoning – sepsis.

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