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

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus