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Carbuncle: Introduction

A carbuncle is a large bacterial infection of a group of hair follicles, the tiny openings in the skin from which hair grows. A carbuncle consists of multiple boils that develop within the infected follicles and are often linked by small tunnels in the skin. Carbuncles are most often due to an infection of the bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus.

When bacteria enter the follicles, the body tries to fight back by sending a surge of white blood cells (infection fighting cells) to the follicles. If the infection isn't stopped quickly, living and dead white blood cells, fluid, bacteria, and dead tissue collect within the infected follicles and form deep pockets of pus. The surrounding tissues also become inflamed and painful.

Carbuncles can be caused by poor hygiene, skin friction from tight clothes or shaving, or diseases or conditions that cause a weakened immune system or a low resistance to infection. Symptoms of a carbuncle include swelling or a reddened lump that develops under the skin. The swelling eventually emerges to the skin's surface and comes to multiple heads of pus. In some cases a carbuncle can lead to potentially serious complications, such as brain abscess and septicemia. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of carbuncle.

Making a diagnosis of a carbuncle begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A carbuncle can generally be diagnosed based on symptoms and a physical exam. A culture and sensitivity test (C and S) or biopsy may also be performed to determine the type of infectious organism causing the carbuncle, as well as which antibiotic would be most effective in treating it.

If the carbuncle has lead to complications, such as cellulitis or septicemia, certain tests might be performed. These include a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a blood test that measures the numbers of different types of blood cells, including white blood cells (WBCs). Different types of WBCs increase in number in characteristic ways during an infectious or inflammatory process, such as cellulitis or sepsis. For people who have recurring carbuncles, other tests may be performed to determine underlying diseases or conditions that can increase the risk of developing boils, such as diabetes.

It is possible that a diagnosis of a carbuncle can be missed or delayed because some symptoms, such as a skin lump and inflammation, are similar to symptoms of other diseases of conditions. For more information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic a carbuncle, refer to misdiagnosis of carbuncle.

Treatment of a carbuncle varies depending on the severity of the carbuncle and other factors. Treatment may include medications and possibly an incision and drainage procedure. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of carbuncle. ...more »

Carbuncle: Group of multiple boils. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Carbuncle is available below.

Carbuncle: Symptoms

Symptoms of a carbuncle include a lump or swelling that forms under the skin. The lump and nearby area is also painful, swollen, red, and inflamed and can feel hot to the touch. The swelling or lump eventually pushes to the skin's surface and comes to a multiple heads of pus (pustules). Carbuncles can burst and drain on their own, which relieves the pain and begins the healing ...more symptoms »

Carbuncle: Treatments

The first step in treating carbuncles is preventing their occurrence. Prevention includes maintaining good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing and washing the body with soap and water. Although carbuncles can rupture and go away on their own in generally healthy people, it is a good idea to report any symptoms of a carbuncle to your licensed health ...more treatments »

Carbuncle: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of a carbuncle may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as a reddened and inflamed skin lump, mimic symptoms of other diseases and conditions. These include acne, rosacea, folliculitis, impetigo, and sebaceous cyst. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Carbuncle

Treatments for Carbuncle

Wrongly Diagnosed with Carbuncle?

Carbuncle: Related Patient Stories

Carbuncle: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Carbuncle.

Carbuncle: Complications

Read more about complications of Carbuncle.

Causes of Carbuncle

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Disease Topics Related To Carbuncle

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Carbuncle:

Misdiagnosis and Carbuncle

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often go undiagnosed. The main problem more »

Carbuncle: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Carbuncle: Animations

Research about Carbuncle

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Clinical Trials for Carbuncle

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Carbuncle include:

Statistics for Carbuncle

Carbuncle: Broader Related Topics

Carbuncle Message Boards

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Definitions of Carbuncle:

An infection of cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue that consists of a cluster of boils. Commonly, the causative agent is STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS. Carbuncles produce fever, leukocytosis, extreme pain, and prostration. - (Source - Diseases Database)

An infection larger than a boil and with several openings for discharge of pus - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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