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Furunculosis And Carbunculosis, Ambulatory Care

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. Furuncles and carbuncles are usually caused by bacteria.


Common symptoms include the following:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • A fast heartbeat or chest pain
  • Sudden trouble breathing
  • Pus draining from your wound
  • A foul smell coming from your wound

Treatment for a furunculosis and carbunculosis

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics help treat the bacterial infection.
    • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
    • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • An incision and drainage is a procedure to drain the fluid or pus that has collected in the infected area.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Apply a moist, warm compress for 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day, or as directed. Warm compresses help decrease pain and swelling. They may also help drain pus and speed up healing.
  • Care for your wound as directed. You may need to apply bandages with medicine on them. You may need to carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Prevent the spread of germs:

  • Keep your skin clean. Wash your skin and hair every day. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Use germ-killing hand gel if no water is available.
  • Apply lotion 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.
  • Wash laundry properly. Place an infected person's laundry in a plastic bag. Wash with detergent and hot water. Dry the items on the hot setting.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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.

© 2016 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.

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.

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