1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Carbuncle

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CARBUNCLE (Lat. carbunculus, diminutive of carbo, a glowing coal), in mineralogy, a garnet (q.v.) cut with a convex surface. In medicine the name given to an acute local inflammation of the deeper layers of the skin, followed by sloughing. It is accompanied by great local tension and by constitutional disturbance, and in the early stages the pain is often extremely acute. A hard flattened swelling of a deep-red colour is noticed on the back, face or extremities. This gradually extends until in some instances it may become as large as a dinner-plate. Towards the centre of the mass numerous small openings form on the surface, from which blood and matter escape. Through these openings a yellow slough or “core” of leathery consistence can be seen. Carbuncle is an intense local inflammation caused by septic germs which have in some manner found their way to the part. It is particularly apt to occur in persons whose health is depressed by mental worries, or by such troubles as chronic disease of the kidneys or blood-vessels, or by diabetes. The attack ends in mortification of the affected tissue, and, after much suffering, the core or mortified part slowly comes away. The modern treatment consists in cutting into the inflamed area, scraping out the germ-laden core at the earliest possible moment, and applying germicides. This method relieves the pain at once, materially diminishes the risk of blood-poisoning, and hastens convalescence.  (E. O.*)