Furunculosis (inflammatory ulcer) is infected and inflammatory follicle of the hair (follicle is a tiny fever in the skin from which the hair grows). Infections are usually bacteria – staphylococcus. White blood cells, which are part of a antibacterial defense system, are gathering in this place to counteract infection. White blood cells and bacteria accumulate in an inflamed place, forming a dense white or yellow pus.
Carbuncle (hard, painful ulcer) occurs in the same way; it is either an unusually large furuncle or group of connected furuncles. Furunculosis and carbunculus are localized infections and are not dangerous. However, frequent furunculosis may be a sign of a general illness, such as diabetes.
Furuncle must not be confused with the freckles that we find in acne.
Furunculosis begins to develop as a reddish, sensitive bump that can painfully “knock”. After a day or two, this bump is getting bigger and hurts more. By accumulating the pus, a white or yellow ”center” develops on the furunculus. The pus in under the pressure, which increases the pain and sensitivity. In time, furunculus is chipped through the skin or slowly disappears without cracking. In any case, the pain is reduced and furunculosis heals.
Furunculosis is an unusually common disorder and may occur sooner or later to everyone. Carbuncle is less common. Both of them may come back again as the bacteria that cause them can stay on the skin.
If bacteria from furunculosis, carbuncle or skin gets into hot food, there is a risk of their reproduction; some strains produce toxins that cause food poisoning. Therefore, if you have furunculosis, wash your hands thoroughly before preparing meals.
What to do?
Most furunculi break or disappear after a week. If you have a painful furuncle, or it is more frequent, contact your doctor. After examining the infection, the doctor may take blood and urine samples to rule out the unlikely possibility that diabetes is responsible for the development of furunculosis.
Self-help: put a hot compress (cotton wool soaked in hot salt water) on the furunculus every few hours; this should reduce the sensitivity and discomfort.
Professional help: if the furuncle looks like it could break any moment, the doctor can open it with a small comma in the center to expel the pus. In addition (or instead), a physician can prescribe antibiotics to destroy the bacteria. To prevent frequent occurrence of furunculosis, antiseptic or antibiotic is commonly used in those parts of the skin where bacteria live, e.g. around the mouth or nostrils. You should also add an antiseptic solution to the water you use for bathing. This process may need to be applied for several weeks to eradicate bacteria.