Carbuncle: Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Carbuncle: Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Bajaj Finserv Health
May 18, 20224 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • Carbuncles can be present anywhere on your body such as neck or thighs
  • Old age, poor hygiene and friction are two common carbuncle causes
  • Carbuncle treatment includes using warm compress and taking medicines

A carbuncle is a red, painful, and swollen group of boils attached to each other beneath the skin [1]. A boil is a hair follicle infection with a tiny accumulation of pus under the skin. The infected mass in a carbuncle is covered in pus, fluid, and dead tissue. This fluid may drain out on its own unless the mass is deep.  

A carbuncle usually appears on a hairy portion of the body, such as the back or nape of the neck. But carbuncles can also appear in other parts of the body, including the thighs, buttocks, groin area, and armpits. If you have carbuncles on your body, it is better to get carbuncle treatment immediately to avoid the condition from becoming worse.  

Read on to know important information regarding carbuncle causes and carbuncle treatment. 

Risk Factors for Carbuncles

The risk factors that can cause carbuncle are: 


Carbuncles can also occur in healthy and young people, especially those living in shared spaces like college dorms. People can also develop carbuncles from abrasions or irritations caused by: 

  • Tight clothing 
  • Insect bites  
  • Shaving  
  • Heavy perspiration
Additional Read: Ingrown Hair Treatment and Diagnosis

Carbuncle Causes

Almost all the carbuncles are caused by the bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus [2]. Easy transmission of these bacteria becomes possible due to: 

  • Friction from shaving or clothing 
  • Poor overall health 
  • Poor hygiene  

People with diabetes and a weak immune system are more prone to developing staph infections that may cause carbuncles. In case you have diabetes and are prone to a staph infection, treatment needs to be initiated at the earliest.

home remedies for Carbuncle Treatment Infographic

Carbuncle Symptoms

The boils that come together to give rise to carbuncles look like red bumps that may be painful at first. Soon they may develop yellow or cream pointy ends that secrete pus or crust over.  

After some time, these untreated carbuncles break open, releasing pink or creamy fluid. Superficial carbuncles with multiple openings on the surface of the skin do not leave as many scars compared to deep carbuncles. These deep bumps cause significant scarring. Other symptoms include: 

  • Chills 
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sickness  
  • Swelling in lymph nodes, especially in the armpit, neck, or groin 
Carbuncle Symptoms

Complications Related to Carbuncles 

At times, MRSA bacteria can be responsible for the formation of carbuncles. In such cases, if the lesions cannot be drained, treatment with proper antibiotics can help. In rare cases, bacteria from carbuncles can escape into your bloodstream and cause serious complications that include sepsis and infections in parts of your body, such as: 

  • Bones 
  • Joints 
  • Lungs  
  • Blood 
  • Heart 
  • Central nervous system  

Carbuncle Treatment Options

The basic rule for carbuncle treatment is to avoid irritating or squeezing a carbuncle, as this will increase the risk of scarring and complications [3]. A warm compress helps promote the healing and drainage of these bumps. Soak the carbuncle in warm water or apply a fresh, clean, and warm washcloth to the area. Keep it for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this process several times a day. Medications can also help relieve the pain of an inflamed bump.

Additional Read: Prickly Heat Rash Causes

Now that you know the basic carbuncle meaning and the different carbuncle treatment options choose one that is suitable for your condition. To find out the best carbuncle treatment option for yourself or your loved ones, consult dermatologists online on Bajaj Finserv Health. Not only will they guide you with this treatment, but they can also advise you on all kinds of skin problems offering razor bumps treatment, staph infection treatment, or rosacea treatment. Just go to the Bajaj Finserv Health platform or app and search for a skin specialist near me to get carbuncle treatment today.

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Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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