At A Glance: Skin abscess versus carbuncle

A skin abscess may develope after a minor wound
A skin abscess may develope after a minor wound

SKIN ABSCESS

Discriminatory signs 

  •  Open sore or closed, red-domed nodule, may drain pus. Localised swelling with induration.
  • Common. Usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Develops after a minor wound, injury, or as a complication of folliculitis or boils.
  • May occur anywhere on the body.
  • Tender and warm. Fever or rigors.

Management 

  • Incision and drainage when fluctuant.
  • Heat application may speed healing, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Elevate the affected part.
  • If recurrent, consider checking for diabetes and eradication from carriage sites.

CARBUNCLE

Discriminatory signs

  • Confluent infection of multiple, contiguous hair follicles.
  • Infection limited to the subcutaneous tissue by overlying dense skin and fascia.
  • Usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Commonly occur on the back of the neck and in patients with diabetes.

Management 

  • Incision and drainage.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Fasting blood glucose in non-diabetics.
  • Swab and eradicate carriage sites.
Contributed by Dr Vasa Gnanapragasam, a GP in Sutton, Surrey

 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Patients aged 30-39 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19...

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

The number of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs per patient in England...

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

CQC inspections that ‘divert time away from patient care’ and ‘instil fear’ among...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

Rocketing workloads created by huge backlogs of cases and continuing COVID-19 disruption...

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

The GP workforce grew by 0.4% in the year to March 2021, but the number of GP partners...