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5 Things You Need to Know About Carbuncle

5 Things You Need to Know About Carbuncle

1. What's a Carbuncle?

Essentially a carbuncle is a group of boils. It results when a hair follicle becomes infected or blocked. It can be as small as a pea or as large as a golf ball. It is red and usually oozes puss. The most common regions of the body afflicted with carbuncles are the groin, buttocks, thigh and armpit areas. Carbuncles can result more often in people with diabetes or skin conditions such as acne.

2. Don't Squeeze the Carbuncle

It can be tempting to treat a carbuncle just like a pimple and squeeze the life out of the little bugger. However, squeezing can spread the skin infection and make the carbuncle bigger. The best thing to do is put a warm clean washcloth or compress on for at least 15 minutes. If possible, salt the water for the compress. Be sure to wash the infected area two or three times a day. After cleaning the area apply an over-the-counter antibiotic and put a bandage on it. Finally, after you have cleaned and applied a warm compress be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

3. The Thin Red Line

Normally you can successfully treat carbuncles at home. However, a doctor visit is in order if the boil is painful or persists after a couple weeks despite proper treatment. If the boils are numerous in frequency or if there are red lines that appear in the affected area, contact your doctor. The red lines may indicate that the infection from the carbuncle is spreading to other parts of the body. Finally, if you have a fever or another immune deficiency disease such as HIV you should visit a doctor for treatment.

4. Keep Cuts Clean

Always clean any small cuts or scrapes on the skin thoroughly with soap and apply antibiotic cream, because this is where the staph bacteria that causes carbuncles enter the body. In addition, you can help prevent carbuncles by wearing loose clothes. Tight clothes can cause chaffing and irritate the skin, eventually giving way to a carbuncle.

5. Carbuncle Catastrophy

The infection residing in the carbuncle can spread to other parts of the body and cause blood poisoning. Symptoms that usually accompany this illness are spiking fever, chills, falling blood pressure, disorientation and bleeding through the skin. If blood poisoning is left untreated, it can be fatal. Another complication is a staph infection known as MRSA. Although the MRSA strain is difficult to treat because it is resistant to penicillin, it is treatable with antibiotics. MRSA is highly contagious. MRSA starts as smallish red bumps but can evolve into deep red abscesses that can require a doctor visit to have them drained surgically.

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