Furunculosis is a deep infection of the skin, in which the hair follicles become infected and furuncles form on the skin. The most common cause that leads to the appearance of this skin condition is the infection with the bacteria staphylococcus aureus. The staph bacteria is commonly found on the skin but it can breach the skin through an open wound or it can be transmitted from someone else through dirty hands or the nose. Correct hygiene can prevent the transmission of the staph bacteria from one person to the other.
The furuncles are painful and swollen bumps on the skin, in which pus and dead skin cells tend to accumulate. If several hair follicles become infected and abscesses form in each hair follicle, it can happen that these infections cluster together, leading to the appearance of what is known as a carbuncle. In some patients, furunculosis can become a chronic condition. This means that either the furuncles appear regularly or that they have periods in which they gradually disappear, only to appear from time to time. Immune suppressed patients can be suffer from chronic furunculosis.
- The hair follicles presents a bump or a lump that is filled with pus
- Both the lump and the skin area around it can be tender or painful to the touch
- When palpated, the infected area is warm and redness can also be present around the furuncle
- The size of the lumps can vary tremendously, from the size of a pea to golf size
- The center of the furuncle can present a yellow or a white dot, especially when the furuncle is about to discharge pus
- Severe infections can lead to systemic symptoms, including high running fever, overall fatigue and inflamed lymph nodes
- The furuncles can be recurrent (chronic furunculosis) or they can cluster forming a larger area of infection (carbuncle)
- They can affect any part of the body, appearing on the buttocks, the anal or genital area, the back, the chest, the neck, the stomach, the face, the arms, legs, nose or ear canal.
- They can appear around the eyes (styes)
- They can appear inside the mouth, on the gums (gumboils).
These are the most common causes of furunculosis:
- Skin conditions that cause the person to scratch or in which damage to the skin occurs (eczema, rash, scabies)
- Immune deficiency – HIV/AIDS
- Treatments with immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids or those against cancer
- Bacterial infections (especially with staphylococcus aureus)
- Cutaneous myiasis – this is a medical condition in which the body is infested with fly larvae; these larvae grow inside the body and they feed on the tissues, leading to the appearance of furuncles on the skin. This is caused by a species of flies located in Africa (Tumbu fly).
- Cancer (lymphatic for example)
- Poor hygiene
- After antibiotic treatments (development of resistance to antibiotics)
- Atopic dermatitis.
Treatment for Furunculosis
There are furuncles that discharge pus on their own and heal without any additional treatment but this happens only on rare occasions. Below, you will find the most common courses of treatment undertaken for furunculosis:
- Treatment with antibiotics is recommended in cases of large-sized furuncles or in cases of chronic recurrence. This treatment is also indicated for the lumps that appear in areas where there is a lot of skin sensitivity, such as the groin area, the breasts, armpits, in the ear or around the nostrils. This is not a treatment to be followed for prolonged periods of time, nor should it be taken for a lower period of time than it was prescribed. Otherwise, the bacteria will develop resistance to the said antibiotic and the patient will only be more prone to developing new furuncles.
- Intralesional steroid injections are recommended for severe cases of furunculosis.
- Plastic surgery removal is indicated in cases of recurrent, chronic cases of furunculosis.
- Incision and drainage of the furuncle is recommended when other treatments do not provide the desired results.
- The pain can be reduced by applying a compress soaked in hot water into the area.
- The doctor might apply a dressing with topical medicine on the furuncle and wait for the infection and inflammation to be reduced.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs can be recommended to ease the symptoms associated with the skin lumps, including inflammation, pain and fever.
- The doctor will also instruct on following proper hygiene measures, in order prevent additional staph infections. You need to wash your hands frequently and with anti-bacterial soap, to wash your clothes, towels and bed sheets at hot temperatures and also to avoid sharing objects of personal hygiene with other people.
Collection of pictures of Furunculosis…