A carbuncle is a cluster of boils, draining pus onto the skin. It is usually caused by bacterial infection, most commonly with Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes, which can turn lethal. However, the presence of a carbuncle is actually a sign that the immune system is active and fighting the infection responsible for the carbuncle The infection is contagious and may spread to other areas of the body, or other people; those living in the same residence may develop carbuncles at the same time.
Most boils are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria commonly found on the skin and inside the nose. Boils sometimes develop at sites where the skin has been broken by a small injury or an insect bite, which gives the bacteria easy entry.
Although anyone — including otherwise healthy people — can develop boils or carbuncles, the following factors can increase your risk:
- Close contact with a person who has a staph infection.You’re more likely to develop an infection if you live with someone who has a boil or carbuncle.
- This disease can make it more difficult for your body to fight infection, including bacterial infections of your skin.
- Other skin conditions.Because they damage your skin’s protective barrier, skin problems, such as acne and eczema, make you more susceptible to boils and carbuncles.
- Compromised immunity.If your immune system is weakened for any reason, you’re more susceptible to boils and carbuncles.
A carbuncle is made up of several skin boils. The infected mass is filled with fluid, pus and dead tissue. Fluid may drain out of the carbuncle, but sometimes the mass is so deep that it cannot drain on its own. Carbuncles may develop anywhere, but they are most common on the back and the nape of the neck.
The carbuncle may be the size of a pea or as large as a golf ball. It may be red and irritated, and might hurt when touched. It may also grow very fast and have a white or yellow center. It may crust or spread to other skin areas. Sometimes other symptoms may occur, such as fatigue, fever and a general discomfort or sick feeling. Itching may occur before the carbuncle develops.
Rarely, bacteria from a boil or carbuncle can enter your bloodstream and travel to other parts of your body. The spreading infection, commonly known as blood poisoning (sepsis), can lead to infections deep within your body, such as your heart (endocarditis) and bone (osteomyelitis).
Carbuncle finds an excellent treatment with homeopathy. Most cases heal and antibiotics can be avoided.