What Is a Carbuncle?
A carbuncle is an infection of the skin that may be filled with
pus. The infection usually occurs deep within your skin and involves the hair
follicles. It’s also called a staph skin infection.
Carbunculosis is the name given to more than one carbuncle. This
condition can cause permanent skin scarring. It can easily infect other parts
of your body and other people.
Pictures of a Carbuncle
Distinguishing a Carbuncle from Other Skin Problems
The most obvious symptom of a carbuncle is a red, irritated lump
under your skin. Touching it may be painful. It can range from the size of a
lentil to the size of a medium-sized mushroom. The lump quickly becomes filled
with pus. Nearby areas may also experience swelling. Other symptoms may include:
- itching before the lump appears
- bodily aches
- skin crustiness or oozing
Pus usually appears within one day of carbuncle formation.
What Are the Causes of a Carbuncle?
A carbuncle usually develops when Staphylococcus aureus
bacteria enter your hair follicles. This bacteria is also referred to as
“staph.” Scrapes and other broken skin make it easy for bacteria to enter your
body and cause an infection. This can result in a number of boils filled with
fluid and pus that contain dead tissue.
The moist parts of your body are particularly susceptible to this
infection because bacteria thrive in these areas. This is especially the case
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing a Carbuncle?
Being in close contact with someone who has a carbuncle increases
your chances of developing one. The following factors also increase the risk of
developing a carbuncle:
- poor hygiene
- a weak immune system
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- shaving and other activities that break the skin
How Is a Carbuncle Diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually diagnose a carbuncle by looking at your
skin. A pus sample may also be taken for lab analysis.
It’s important to keep track of how long you’ve had the
carbuncle. Tell your doctor if it’s lasted longer than two weeks. You should
also mention if you’ve had the same symptoms before.
If you keep developing carbuncles, it may be a sign of other
health issues, such as diabetes. Your doctor may want to run urine or blood
tests to check your overall health.
How Is a Carbuncle Treated?
There are several possible treatments for a carbuncle. If the
mass is close to your nose, spine, or eyes, it’s important to see a doctor.
These infections could lead to more serious problems.
The following medical treatments can be used for a carbuncle:
- Antibiotics are
sometimes needed for treatment. They’re either taken orally or rubbed on your
relievers can be used if necessary. Normally over-the-counter
medications are enough.
soaps may be suggested as part of your daily regimen.
may be used to address some deep or large carbuncles. A carbuncle may be
drained with a scalpel or needle.
You should never try to drain a carbuncle yourself. There’s a
risk that you’ll spread the infection. You could also end up infecting your
To decrease your pain and lower the risk of spreading the
- Place a clean, warm, moist cloth on your
carbuncle several times a day. Leave it on for 15 minutes. This will help it
- Keep your skin clean with antibacterial soap.
- Change your bandages often if you’ve had
- Wash your hands after touching a carbuncle.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Carbuncles typically respond well to medical treatment. In some
cases, they may heal without medical intervention.
Your first infection may result in repeated infections in the
future. See your doctor if this happens. It could be a sign of a more serious health
Preventing a Carbuncle
Proper hygiene reduces your risk of developing a carbuncle.
Follow these tips to prevent a carbuncle:
- Wash your hands before eating and after using
- Shower often to keep your skin free of bacteria.
- Avoid squeezing boils or rubbing any broken
- Wash clothes, sheets, and towels regularly in
- See your doctor if you think you have a chronic
illness or other skin issues that cause breaks in the skin.