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Summary

Background  Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is increasing in incidence and manifests as skin and soft tissue infections including furuncles. The majority of studies have focused on the epidemiology of single furuncles and not recurrent disease. There is a lack of data concerning the incidence of furunculosis outside the U.S.A.

Objectives  This report reviews the literature of recurrent furunculosis and the impact of CA-MRSA on the disease.

Methods  Article citations were searched within PubMed. Search terms used were ‘furunculosis’, ‘recurrent furunculosis’, ‘skin abscess’ and ‘recurrent boils’. Articles were discarded if they did not refer to furunculosis secondary to S. aureus.

Results  A total of 1515 articles were initially retrieved with the term ‘furunculosis’, 77 with the term ‘recurrent furunculosis’, 2778 with the term ‘skin abscess’, and 1526 with the term ‘recurrent boils’. After excluding articles not referring to S. aureus furunculosis, 86 articles were included for this review.

Conclusions  Furunculosis is increasing within the U.S.A. secondary to the CA-MRSA epidemic and the resistant organism’s close association with the Panton–Valentine leucocidin (PVL) virulence factor. PVL is associated with follicular infections in general, having its strongest association with furunculosis and its recurrence. The majority of furuncles in the U.S.A. are caused by CA-MRSA, while elsewhere in the world they are caused by methicillin-sensitive S. aureus. Nasal carriage of S. aureus is the primary risk factor for recurrent furunculosis and occurs in 60% of individuals.