What is a Carbuncle?

A carbuncle is an accumulation of boils caused by a bacterial infection that has spread to deeper layers of the skin. It typically occurs when multiple hair follicles become infected.


Typically, these lesions are red, circular, sensitive to touch, and contain pus that may discharge from multiple points. They can reach a size of up to 10cm or even larger.


While more frequent in older men with compromised immune systems, they can emerge in individuals of any demographic.


Predominantly found on the back of the neck, shoulders, or thighs, they can also manifest on the nose, mouth, groin, buttocks, or underarms. These regions tend to harbour elevated bacterial presence.


Since they stem from infection, symptoms may encompass fever and a general sense of malaise. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to combat the infection, as the body may require assistance fighting it.

What are the symptoms of a Carbuncle?

Initial symptoms may include itching under the skin. There are also the following indications:


  • A reddened, irritated bump or several such bumps beneath the skin, often accompanied by multiple pus-filled boils of a yellow hue.

  • The adjacent skin may display inflammation and redness.

  • Overall body discomfort.

  • Elevated body temperature.

  • An overall sense of illness.

  • Fatigue and weakness.

  • Skin discharge is characterized by oozing or crusting.

How is Carbuncle diagnosed?

If you have a carbuncle, it is best to consult a doctor. A doctor can quickly identify it just by seeing it, which can be done through a virtual appointment.


It is crucial to get a prompt diagnosis, as antibiotics are usually a successful treatment for skin infections.


If the diagnosis is delayed, the doctor may order tests to identify the bacteria causing the infection.


Additionally, it is essential to let the doctor know if you have other symptoms, have had carbuncles in the past, have multiple carbuncles, or are not healing with treatment.

What are the causes of Carbuncles?

Carbuncles arise when staphylococcus aureus bacteria penetrate the skin and infect either a single hair follicle or multiple follicles. This infection then progresses more profoundly into the skin, giving rise to a carbuncle.


Although these bacteria can reside harmlessly on the skin's surface, they can turn into an infection when they enter the skin through cuts, scrapes, or other forms of skin trauma.


Specific individuals are more likely to develop carbuncles, influenced by various factors. These encompass:


  • Possessing a skin condition like eczema that damages the skin's surface.

  • Inadequate hygiene practices.

  • Having a condition that weakens the immune system.

  • Dealing with health conditions such as diabetes.

  • Close physical contact with someone with a carbuncle or residing in close quarters.

  • Engaging in shaving, which can cause skin damage.

  • Carbuncles can be transmitted from person to person or even spread within one's body.

How are Carbuncles treated?

Various carbuncle treatments exist; several home remedies may help reduce their discomfort.


It is important to avoid applying pressure to pimples, as this can cause additional bacteria to enter the skin and result in long-term scarring.


Carbuncles usually respond well to treatment; once they are cleared up, they do not cause any other issues. However, rarely, they can cause further infections, such as cellulitis, and if they are large, they may result in scarring. Therefore, it is important to avoid picking or squeezing them.


In most cases, these are required to control the infection.


Even if you begin to see signs of improvement, you must follow the doctor's instructions and complete the course of antibiotics or other prescribed treatments. Skipping doses or stopping the course prematurely may lead to the carbuncle returning or the infection worsening.


Any inflammation or pain associated with the carbuncle can be controlled with over-the-counter painkillers.


Surgery may be necessary if your carbuncle is especially large, painful, or in an area of concern. This procedure involves using a needle or scalpel to release the fluid and accumulated pus in the carbuncle.

Antiseptic soaps and creams

If you experience recurrent carbuncles, you may be tested for the presence of staphylococcus bacteria on your skin or in your nose. If so, a doctor may prescribe an antibacterial soap or a cream for your nose to help reduce the amount of bacteria, which should reduce the frequency of carbuncles.

Home remedies for carbuncles

You may benefit from home remedies if you have carbuncles, but see your doctor first.


  • Apply a warm, damp, clean cloth onto the carbuncle around three to four times daily to promote drainage. After each use, ensure proper cloth washing to prevent infection transmission.

  • Remember to wash your hands after any contact with the carbuncle, like applying the prescribed cream.

  • Maintain skin cleanliness with the use of antibacterial soap.

How can Mobi Doctor help?

Mobi Doctor offers the convenience of seeing a general practitioner over video chat to discuss your carbuncle. The doctor can look at the area and advise you on the best course of treatment.


Our physicians can write out prescriptions to be sent to a nearby pharmacy for you to pick up.