Category Archives: Medical and Hospitalization

Carbuncles (or pigsa) in humid Philippine weather

About a five days ago, my American husband developed a small bump on his shin. We thought at first it was an insect bite, and treated it with topical antibiotic, Neosporin, and Vicks to reduce the discomfort.  But it started to get bigger, and bigger, until it was not just itchy, but painful as well.  And then blood started to ooze from it.

Tom's Carbuncle on his hairy legIt turned out to be a carbuncle or pigsa (loosely pronounced as “pigs” -“ah”). This is the first time my husband had something like this. We went to the emergency room at FEU-NRMF Hospital in Fairview, Quezon City, on April 29, 2011.  The doctor prescribed antibiotics, and scheduled him for a minor surgery the following Monday to drain fluids and remove some of the infected area.  The surgery, which lasted less than 15 minutes, left a small “crater” like hole with a purplish rim on his shin.  It was difficult to look at.

So, what is a carbuncle, and how come my husband got it? According to US National Center for Biotechnology Information, “A  carbuncle is a skin infection that often involves a group of hair follicles. The infected material forms a lump, called mass, which occurs deep in the skin.”  My husband’s doctor explained that my husband probably got it when an ingrown hair got infected with bacteria.  (He has so much body hair.)  So, bacteria from dust and moisture probably accumulated in the shaft of his ingrown hair.

I guess this condition is sometimes unavoidable in this hot and humid tropical country. It’s been particularly more humid and hotter the past month of April 2011 than we’ve experience before.  (I heard the other day that April 26, 2011 was the hottest for that particular date.)  My husband has always been very diligent when it comes to hygiene, taking showers regularly, and before going to bed, and after exercising, but he still acquired carbuncles.  

My husband’s leg is still swollen.  We will be coming back to the doctor on Friday for a follow up.  Hopefully, things will get better soon.