Carbuncle is an abscess larger than a boil, involves a group of hair follicles, usually with one or more openings draining pus onto the skin. It is usually caused by bacterial infection, most commonly staphylococcus aureus. The infection is contagious and may spread to other areas of the body or other people.
Carbuncle is made up of several skin boils. The infected mass is filled with fluid, pus and dead tissue. Fluid may drain out of the carbuncle but sometimes the mass is so deep that it cannot drain on its own. Carbuncles may develop anywhere but they are most commonon the back and the nape of neck. Men get carbuncles more often than women. Because the condition is contagious, family members may develop carbuncle at the same time.
Things that make carbuncle infections more likely include friction from clothing or shaving, poor hygiene, poor overall health, diabetes; dermatitis and weakened immune systems are more likely to develop staphylococcus infections.
Carbuncle may be the size of a pea or as large as golf ball. It may be red and irritated and might hurt when touched. It may also grow very fast and white or yellow centre. Itmay crust or spread to other skin areas. Sometimes, other skin symptoms may occur. These may include fatigue, fever and general discomfort or sick feeling. Sometimes an itching occurs before the carbuncle develops. When you have more than one carbuncle, the condition is called carbunculosis.
Carbuncle usually must drain before they will heal. This most often occurs on its own in less than two weeks. Placing a warm moist cloth on the carbuncle helps it to drain, which speeds healing. Never squeeze a boil or attempt to cut it open at home because this can spread the infection and make it worse. You need treatment if carbuncle lasts longer than two weeks, returns frequently, is located on the spine or the middle of the face or occurs along with a fever or other symptoms.
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