Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Carbuncles

Carbuncle refers to a bacterial infection caused by the Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria. The bacterium is present on the skin surface, along the nasal passageways, and at times in the throat as well. Sometimes due to some cuts or bruises, the bacterium infiltrates the body resulting in an infection. The area at the point of entry of the bacteria becomes inflamed, swollen, and there is development of a boil of the size of a pea. This is what is called as a carbuncle.

The skin around the area of the infection becomes erythematous and swollen. Carbuncles are normally seen to form in the hairy portions of the body like the chest, thighs, and legs. However, in some cases they can also form behind the neck and in the armpits.

Carbuncle is highly contagious and can transmit from one individual to another through direct contact. Sharing utensils and clothes of an infected individual can also result in transmission of bacteria and ultimately developing this condition. The pus filling in the blister drains out after about a week or so and the carbuncle shrinks.

However, if there are changes in the characteristics of the carbuncle then medical attention needs to be sought like no decrease in the size of the bump even after a month, high grade fever, and severe pain. This article gives an overview of some of the presenting features of Carbuncles.

What are the Presenting Features of Carbuncle?

The interconnected boils that form on the surface of the skin begin as painful erythematous bumps. This then fills up with pus containing dead skin cells, bacteria, and white blood cells.

The tip of the bump becomes yellow in color due to the buildup of pus. This goes on for a few days until the tip ruptures and there is oozing of a pinkish yellow discharge. Once the pus completely drains out, the bumps automatically shrinks.

In cases of carbuncles which are just on the surface of the skin there may be multiple openings and once all the pus is drained there are no visible scars. However, for carbuncles deep within the skin there can be visible scars as there is generally just one opening or entry point of the bacteria.

Some of the other presenting features of carbuncle are fever which at times may be high grade, feeling of being always sick, swelling of the adjoining lymph nodes, especially of the neck, groin, and armpits.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 19, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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