Overview of Carbuncle

A carbuncle (راج پھوڑ )is a collection of painful boils. These boils are formed in a group under your skin. A carbuncle is red and swollen in appearance. A boil is also termed a furuncle. It is formed as a result of bacterial infection of hair follicles. Carbuncle is mostly formed on the hairy parts of your body such as the back of the neck. However, it can also form on other body parts such as the underarms, groin, thighs and buttocks.

Carbuncle is contagious and can spread easily from one body part to another by direct skin contact. To avoid further spread, you must keep the area clean until the carbuncle is healed.

Difference Between Carbuncle and Other Skin Problems

The main symptom of carbuncles is the development of red and irritated lumps under your skin. If you touch it, you will feel pain. The lump continuously increases in size. Later, yellow-white tips appear that will rupture and drain the pus. Swelling appears in the surrounding area.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Itching before the lump formation
  • Bodily aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Skin crustiness 
  • Pus formation

Occurrence of Carbuncles

The incidence of carbuncles is unknown; on the other hand, they are considered relatively common. Teenagers and middle-aged adults are most likely to develop carbuncles. Carbuncles mostly affect males as compared to women.

Signs and Symptoms of Carbuncle

People commonly experience the following symptoms:

  • Red, painful bumps
  • White or yellow heads with pus
  • White or pink discharge
  • Sickness
  • Scarring 
  • High fever
  • Laziness
  • Swelling of lymph nodes

Types of Carbuncle

Causes of Carbuncle

Most carbuncles are formed by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which normally inhabit the skin, throat, and nasal area. These bacteria enter the skin through hair follicles or cuttings. Pus in the boils is the accumulation of old WBC (white blood cells), bacteria, and dead skin. Drainage is necessary for the healing of carbuncles. After healing they mostly leave scars or marks on the skin.


Risk Factors of Carbuncle

Mostly, the following factors are associated with carbuncle formation:

  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Poor overall health
  • Chronic skin conditions protective barrier
  • Poor hygiene
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Any condition responsible for immune system weakness
  • Sharing of dorms and clothing
  • Irritation and abrasion of the skin

Health Complications Related to Carbuncle

In rare cases, carbuncles are formed by the infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. In this case, your doctor may prescribe you use certain antibiotics. If it is not treated properly following complications can occur:

  • Sepsis (spread of bacteria in the bloodstream)
  • Infections in other organs of the body (lung, bones, joints, heartblood, and CNS)



A carbuncle can be prevented with the help of the following strategies:

  1. Make sure to wash your hands regularly
  2. Do not break your wounds and stop touching them too often 
  3. Make sure to wash your clothes with hot water
  4. Pay special attention to personal hygiene 
  5. Shower often 


Your doctor may diagnose a boil or carbuncle by: 

  • Visual Observation: In this method, the doctor may physically examine the boils.
  • Lab Testing: Lab testing helps to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This method of diagnosis helps the medical personnel in choosing the proper treatment method.

Treatment of Carbuncle | When to Consult a Doctor

Caruncles can be treated in various ways depending on the severity of the disease. Your dermatologist will devise a treatment plan as per your condition.

  • Home Treatment of Carbuncle:

You can treat small boils at home by using the following methods, these measures may be helpful for the quick healing and prevention of spread:

  • Warm Compresses: This method speeds up the rupturing and draining of boil. Compress the affected area with a warm washcloth for 10 minutes several times a day.  
  • Never Squeeze a Boil Yourself: It can cause the spread of infection to other parts.
  • Prevent Contamination: If you are experiencing recurrent infections, wash your hands properly after treating your boil. Also, wash your clothes, towels, and compressors. 

Small boils can be treated at home by using warm compresses. However, for larger boils, you have to consult the doctor. Larger boils and carbuncles are treated in the following ways:

  • Incision and Drainage

 The doctor may be draining a carbuncle by making a cut in it. Deep infections which cannot drain completely are packed with sterile gauze. This helps remove additional pus.

  • Antibiotics

 Antibiotics are prescribed to treat severe or recurrent infections.

You may consult your family doctor or primary care health personnel first, who may then ask to visit a skin specialist (dermatologist).

Following are some basic questions you can ask your doctor:

  • Are tests necessary to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What is the best method of action?
  • Is there any substitute for the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Can I wait if the symptoms go away on their own?
  • What can I do to stop the spread of infection?

Your doctor might ask you the following questions:

  • What was the first appearance of boil?
  • Do your symptoms appear along with pain?
  • Have you had a boil or carbuncle in the past?
  • Are you feeling fever or chills?
  • Do you have artificial implanted devices?

If you have a small boil you can treat it yourself. But if you have a group of boils and the following symptoms appear, consult your doctor. 

  • Develop on your face or affects your eyesight
  • Worsens quickly or is severely painful
  • Raise the temperature
  • Gets larger despite self-care
  • Hasn't been cured in two weeks
  • Recurs