Furunculosis And Carbunculosis

What are furunculosis and carbunculosis?

Furunculosis and carbunculosis are skin infections that form lumps and pus, called furuncles and carbuncles. A furuncle (abscess) forms when a hair follicle and the skin surrounding it become infected. A carbuncle is made up of multiple furuncles, and goes much deeper into the skin.

What causes furunculosis and carbunculosis?

Furunculosis and carbunculosis are often caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (Staph). The Staph bacteria are commonly found on the skin. You may become sick if you have physical contact with an infected person. Infected people may also spread the bacteria if they do not wash their hands. Germs may enter the body through the nose or through an opening in the skin.

What increases my risk of furunculosis and carbunculosis?

  • Medicines: These include medicines used to treat cancer or long-term use of steroid medicine.

  • Poor hygiene: This includes not washing your hands or clothes properly.

  • Weak immune system: Diabetes, cancer, blood disease, or poor nutrition can weaken your immune system.

  • Skin conditions: Dermatitis, scabies, or eczema may cause you to scratch and damage your skin. This increases your risk of infection.

What are the signs and symptoms of furunculosis and carbunculosis?

  • Furunculosis: A furuncle usually starts as a small, firm, red lump under the skin. The lump usually appears in the neck, face, armpits, thighs, or buttocks. It may become painful, swollen, and full of pus.

  • Carbunculosis: A carbuncle usually occurs on the back of the neck or side of the thigh. It is a group of small, shallow abscesses that connect with each other under the skin. A carbuncle may easily open, drain pus, and form an ulcer on the skin. The skin then slowly heals and a deep scar may develop. You may also have other symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, or pain.

How are furunculosis and carbunculosis diagnosed?

Your caregiver will examine your skin. He may ask if you have other health conditions or if you have had furunculosis or carbunculosis before. You may also need the following:

  • Wound culture: Cultures are done to show what kind of germ is causing your infection. A swab of the draining area on your skin is sent to a lab for tests. This will also help determine the best treatment for you.

  • Blood or urine tests: Your blood and urine will be tested for infection.

How are furunculosis and carbunculosis treated?

  • Warm compress: This can decrease pain and swelling. It may also help drain pus and speed up healing. Apply moist, warm compresses for 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day or as directed.

  • Dressings: These are bandages that have medicine on them. Place the bandages over the wound as directed by your caregiver. Ask how often to change the bandages.

  • Incision and drainage: This is a procedure to drain the fluid or pus that has collected in the infected area.

  • Medicines:

    • Antibiotics: These are given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Take them as directed.

    • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines decrease pain and fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your caregiver which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

  • Surgery: You may need to have surgery if your infection spreads.

What are the risks of furunculosis and carbunculosis?

You may have a scar at the site of the infection after treatment. You may need surgery to treat your infection. If not treated, furunculosis and carbunculosis can lead to an infection that spreads to your blood and organs. This may cause life-threatening damage to your heart, brain, or bones.

How can furunculosis and carbunculosis be prevented?

  • Use lotion regularly: Apply softeners, lubricants, or moisturizing creams to your skin regularly. Stop using them if they sting or irritate your skin.

  • Avoid contact with other people's wounds: Keep any wounds clean and covered with clean, dry bandages until they heal. Place used bandages in a sealed plastic bag when you throw them away.

  • Do not share personal items: Use your own towel, soap, clothes, and other personal items. Do not share these items with others.

  • Wash laundry correctly: Place an infected person's laundry in a plastic bag. Wash with detergent and hot water. Dry the items on the hot setting.

  • Keep your skin clean: Wash your skin and hair every day. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Use germ-killing hand lotion or gel if no water is available.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have chills or a cough, or feel weak and achy.

  • You have increased pain, redness, or swelling around the infected area.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fast heartbeat or chest pain.

  • You have sudden trouble breathing.

  • Your symptoms do not improve or are getting worse.

  • Your wound has pus coming out or has a foul smell.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

Learn more about Furunculosis And Carbunculosis