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acute inflammatory nodule of the skin caused by bacterial invasion into the hair follicles or sebaceous gland ducts. It is actually a boilboil
or furuncle
, tender, painful inflammatory nodule in the skin, which becomes pustular but with a hard center (see abscess). It may be caused by any of various microbes, the most usual being Staphylococcus aureus.
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, but one that has more than one focus of infection, i.e., involves several follicles or ducts. Carbuncles occur more often in men because of their more extensive body hair growth. The infection is treated by applying antibiotics systemically and directly to the lesion and by incision and drainage at the proper time.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an acute, suppurative, necrotizing inflammation of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that tends to spread rapidly around a cluster of hair follicles and sebaceous glands.

Carbuncles are usually found on the back of the neck, on the face, and on the back. They generally appear when the skin becomes contaminated in places where it has been rubbed by clothing, the result of invasion by pyogenic microbes (staphylococci and streptococci). Exhaustion, diabetes mellitus, and gastrointestinal, liver, and kidney disorders are conducive to the appearance and development of carbuncles. The skin is inflamed and purple-blue at the site of the lesion, and the process is accompanied by suppuration. After the dead portions are sloughed off, multiple funnel-shaped openings form in the skin; this stage is followed by a wound with a dirty gray base and undermined margins. Carbuncles are accompanied by general intoxication, high temperature, and, in severe cases, vomiting and loss of consciousness. Treatment involves rest, local injection of novacain and antibiotics, X-ray therapy, ultrahigh-frequency sound therapy, blood transfusion, high-calorie diet, and, in the necrotic stage, surgery. Carbuncles are prevented through hygienic care of the skin and underclothes.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A bacterial infection of subcutaneous tissue caused by Staphylococcus aureus; multiple sinuses are created by tissue destruction.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. an extensive skin eruption, similar to but larger than a boil, with several openings: caused by staphylococcal infection
2. a dark reddish-greyish-brown colour
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Candlesticks and sconces fastened high on the wall in the Artus Manor were simulating the joy of gleaming; they still flaunted their needles of flame, but already the fierce certainty w as concealed in their carbuncular gold plating that when the time came they would melt down in the fire into thick icicles of congealing copper.
It's also a tender look at the pratfalls, the S&M, called the grammar of human relationships as they transpire in an artsy fin-de-siecle world shot through with an unnerving feeling of sexual fluidity, millennial angst and indecision, and goofy McCarthyesque political correctness that rears its carbuncular head in every chi-chi theme bar and writing workshop where the cynical players already have everything figured out.
Despite the fullness of his citation ('Lines to a Duck in the Park' is rather overloaded with citations from Tennyson, Baudelaire, Yeats, Shakespeare, Marvell), Hands sometimes misses important locations, such as the complete contexts of 'Portrait''s 'dying fall' in Henry James, and he tantalizingly cites Eliot's claim that the 'young man carbuncular' echoes Milton's 'old man eloquent' (a potent allusion, in context) without saying where Eliot claimed this.
The feeling is also manifest in the audience response to Frank Randle, the great Northern favourite of the 1930s and beyond, celebrated as the carbuncular eponymous hero of Jeff Nuttall, King Twist (London, 1978).
The theme of boredom, barrenness, and shame in sexual encounters is reiterated in the scenes between the typist and the "young man carbuncular," Elizabeth and Leicester, and the three Thames maidens.
The man is largely charmless; defensive and truculent, he is stiff with rectitude, carbuncular with rage; he evinces only flashes of humor and maintains an almost complete silence about his private life.
(7) But the novel's historical reach goes deeper than midcentury, and references to David Wallace as the "young man carbuncular" (286 n.40) connect the book's environment generally to modernism's waste lands, but more specifically to the quintessential early twentieth-century figure of the clerk.