Carbuncles externally appear as a cluster of several boils initially but they are internally connected with each other. The condition is often caused due to bacterial infection. The condition can also turn fatal as the bacteria that commonly cause the condition include Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus namo kines, which are sometimes associated with fatal infections. Carbuncle is infectious condition of follicle which is why they often appear on regions where hair follicles are present.

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Presence of carbuncle may indicate functioning of immune system. The condition can be contagious and may metastasize to other body regions or even to unaffected individuals living in same house. There can be two individuals affected with this dermatologic issue simultaneously. The pus in these large boils should be drained before they heal. Scarring is more obvious in carbuncles than in case of boils. In order to prevent scarring and complications the condition should be medically addressed and treated timely. Hence, consulting your doctor immediately is essential.

Causes of Carbuncle

Carbuncles are often caused due to bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus namo kines. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria often inhabit nasal passage, throat, etc. These bacteria can lead to infection by invading the skin through opening skin regions, scrapes on skin and mostly through hair follicles. The condition in its active state can be transmitted from one person to another by sharing objects or skin-to-skin direct contact. It is crucial to keep the carbuncle covered till it drains and heals. Such abscess can become infectious through triggers such as friction of clothing, shaving, folliculitis, hair pulled-away, weakened immune system, inappropriate diet and poor hygiene.


The condition can affect anyone but there are certain groups that are at comparatively increased risk of developing the condition. Older individuals or people with obesity may face higher risk of the issue. People with poor overall health condition stand increased risk of carbuncle than normal individuals. Chronic dermatologic issues such that disrupts the protective barrier of skin makes people prone to such abscess development. People with diabetes, kidney problems and liver issues are at increased risk of suffering from carbuncles.  Though aforementioned individuals stand a risk of the condition it may also appear in healthy, young individuals.

Symptoms of carbuncles

Carbuncles are abscess that grow under the skin and appears as cluster of boils externally. This large boil can be as small as a pea or as big as golf ball. This abscess may be tender to touch and can be irritated. These boil may appear red and be painful. This boil gets filled with pus and has a white or yellowing tip that may ooze or crust. If left untouched these carbuncles may rupture and creamy white or pink foul fluid may discharge. There is another kind of carbuncle called as ‘Superficial carbuncle’ which does not often leave a scar on the affected site. It is only in case of deep carbuncles wherein scaring is quite obvious. If a person is affected with this condition he may experience other symptoms such as fever, tiredness, sickness and discomfort. Sometimes surrounding tissues and lymph nodes may become swollen, especially when the abscess is located near neck, scrotum or armpit.


As primary course of diagnosis the doctor will examine the boil and the affected skin. Diagnosis is basically depended on the appearance of the boil. To confirm the condition, sample of pus may be sent to the laboratory for evaluation. This will also help in determining whether there is any bacterial infection associated. This will also help your doctor decide an appropriate treatment for you.

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Treatments for carbuncle

You should consult your doctor if the pus does not drain out of the carbuncles in few days; especially if you have considered home remedies. If the condition appears on facial region then it is better to meet your doctor; especially if the boil is painful. Usually the doctor can perform in-house acute-operation by cutting the carbuncles and draining away all the pus. He may then wash the area using a sterile solution. At this moment your doctor may also collect pus sample to send for evaluation to rule-out any underlying infection. Usually antibiotics are not necessary if the carbuncle is emptied and cleaned completely.

Antibiotics may be suggested if the drainage is incomplete and MSRA is associated. Medicines are also prescribed if any surrounding soft tissue or other body part is infected. If the patient is diagnosed with weakened immune system for faster healing antibiotic are suggested. Most carbuncles heal in about two to three weeks but the healing process ultimately depends on the severity of carbuncles.

Home remedies

If you suspect that you are affected with carbuncles then make sure that you do not squeeze the boil or irritate it in any way. This may augment your risk of adversities and serious scarring. Using warm compress on the affected region may promote drainage of the carbuncle and speed up healing. You can soak the boil in warm water and apply warm moist cloth on the abscess for 20 minutes throughout the day for several times. Also ensure to cover the carbuncles always until it is cured, to avoid it from spread.  If nothing helps then seek treatment through a certified doctor.

Carbuncle pictures

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