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Definition of Carbuncle
Carbuncle – Clusters of infected hair follicles (furuncles) that often form an abscess.Carbuncles are most common on the back of the neck and shoulders, though may form at other locations where furuncles tend to occur.
Carbuncles are painful and often result in fever and general malaise (not feeling well). The infection is deep within the layers of skin and generally requires treatment with an oral antibiotic medication.
The doctor may choose to lance (open with a sterile incision) the carbuncle to allow the collected pus to drain. Applying warm, moist compresses four to six times a day helps open the follicles and allow continued drainage as healing takes place.
Though poor personal hygiene can contribute to the development of furuncles and carbuncles, the primary cause of these painful sores is bacteria, typically Staphylococcus, that normally resides on the skin. Carbuncles tend to recur.
People who have diabetes are more likely to develop carbuncles because the diabetes damages the delicate blood vessels responsible for peripheral circulation, preventing the bloodstream from carrying bacteria-fighting blood cells to the site of the infection.
People who have impaired immune function are also at increased risk. Untreated carbuncles can result in scars after healing or can progress to systemic infection (septicemia).
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