Carbuncle refers to a cluster of interconnected painful bumps that form underneath the skin. It is a typical bacterial infection caused by Staph Aureus bacterium. This bacterium is always present on the surface of the skin and sometimes on the nasal passage and even in the throat. However, majority of carbuncles are caused due to scrapes, cuts, and bruises on the skin surface.
A carbuncle normally occurs in the hairy portions of the body like the groin, back, or armpits although they can also occur on the thighs and buttocks as well. A typical carbuncle will be of a size of a pea and as the infection progresses it increases in size as the pus fills in the blisters. The pus contains of dead skin cells, bacteria, and white blood cells. The tip of the blisters turns yellow in color. Over a period of weeks, the pus starts oozing from the blisters thus shrinking its size.
Carbuncles are highly contagious. Sharing clothes and utensils or coming in direct contact of an affected individual cause transmission of bacteria and thus the infection. It is thus extremely important for an individual with Carbuncle to keep the affected area covered and clean to prevent the infection from spreading.
How to Get Rid of Carbuncles?
Generally in most cases Carbuncles can successfully be treated at home; however, in some cases where the blisters keep growing large, the individual has high grade fever, and there is severe pain over the affected area medical attention needs to be sought.
Some of the home treatments to get rid of Carbuncles are:
Warm Compresses: It is highly recommended not to self-drain the pus by squeezing the carbuncle as it may lead to complications. Just applying warm compresses directly over the affected area allows healing of the blisters and facilitates drainage of the pus.
The individual just has to soak a towel in warm water and wrap it over the affected area for 15-20 minutes two to three times a day. Another strategy that can be employed is to clean the affected area thoroughly with water and cover the area with a bandage. This does not allow the infection to spread. For pain relief, the individual can also use over the counter NSAIDs like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
Of note, after coming in contact with a blister it is vital to wash the hand thoroughly to prevent spreading the infection to any other individual. If the above measures are ineffective in calming down the inflammation and decreasing the size of the carbuncle then attention must be sought by a physician especially if there is high grade fever and severe pain associated with the blisters.
It is also beneficial to seek a consultation with a physician if a Carbuncle develops on the face, eyes, nose, ears, or spine. The preferred treatment in such cases is to drain the pus from the carbuncle and ensuring that all the pus is drained and the area is washed thoroughly. The pus can also be collected for analysis to identify the bacteria responsible for causing the infection.
Normally antibiotics are not necessary for treatment of Carbuncles but there are certain instances where antibiotics may be required. These instances are when the pus cannot be fully drained. If analysis of the pus identifies MRSA, then the physician may put the patient on some antibiotics for a few days to clear the infection.
Antibiotics may also be given when the area surrounding the carbuncles develops cellulitis. Elderly people or individuals with a compromised immune system also will need antibiotics to completely get rid of carbuncles.
Antibiotics are also necessary for cases where the infection has spread to other parts of the body. In majority of the cases with prompt treatment and attention it takes roughly a month to completely get rid of Carbuncles.
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