Many people do not realize that carbuncles are a condition connected to an infected hair follicle. Typically, hair follicles are associated with hair growth from the scalp and other parts of the body. When multiple follicles become infected, however, they create a patch of swollen, painful, pus-filled bumps on the skin. A single infected hair follicle is known as a boil. Several connected boils become a carbuncle. When the infection is at its worst, a whitish tip forms in the center of each boil. This becomes the place where the pus eventually will drain to heal.
Carbuncles are caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that live in the nasal passages and throat and on the surface of the skin. The bacteria can enter the skin through a skin scrape or puncture, small injury and reach the hair follicles in the dermal skin layer. Existing skin conditions like acne or eczema also can increase the chances of developing carbuncles. Other body areas that stay moist and already host bacteria, including the mouth, nose, groin, and armpits, are also highly susceptible areas for developing carbuncles. Infections usually show up on the back of the neck, thighs, hips or shoulders, and they are very likely to leave a scar. These infections are common for middle-aged or senior men and people who have diabetes.
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