ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Complications of boils and carbuncles are generally few, but can be serious. They include:
- Blood poisoning. In some cases, bacteria from a boil or more commonly, a carbuncle, can enter your bloodstream and travel to other parts of your body. The spreading infection, commonly known as blood poisoning (sepsis), can lead to infections deep within your body, such as your heart (endocarditis) and bone (osteomyelitis). Blood poisoning itself — which is characterized by high fever, rapid breathing and elevated heart rate — can lead to septic shock, a life-threatening state of extremely low blood pressure.
- MRSA. Another potentially serious problem is the emergence of drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Up to half of the staph bacteria found in hospitals are resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, including methicillin. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has led to the use of alternative antibiotics, such as vancomycin, but some strains of staph bacteria have become less susceptible to vancomycin, too. Although MRSA is often acquired in a hospital setting, it can be spread in the general community, as well.
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