Carbuncle is one of the purulent skin diseases. It looks like a larger boil (furuncle) and it usually develops by fusion of few nearby located boils.


The disease is caused by bacterial infections, usually by staphylococci and streptococci. There is higher risk of carbuncle occurrence in people with weakened immunity.


Carbuncle is an abscess located in skin and subcutaneous tissue. Its surface is reddish and it often has several holes leaking pus. However, sometimes the pus can not leak and this causes formation of a large abscess. More severe cases include symptoms such as fever, fatigue and general malaise. There is always risk of bacterial spread into surrounding tissues or into the bloodstream causing septic condition. Carbuncles tend do heal by scars.


The diagnosis is made by physical examination as the lesions are easily recognizable even by the naked eye.


Larger carbuncles are treated surgically. The lesion is cut and cleared, the pus is drained. The wound must be regularly bandaged and kept in cleanness. Antibiotics are usually used to accelerate the healing. It is recommended not to try to treat carbuncles by squeezing them. It does not work and the bacteria may more easily penetrate into the surrounding tissues and into the bloodstream.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources