Skin infection - staphylococcal; Infection - skin - staph; Staph skin infection; Carbunculosis
Carbuncles usually must drain before they will heal. This most often occurs on its own in less than 2 weeks.
Placing a warm moist cloth on the carbuncle helps it to drain, which speeds healing. Gently soak the area with a warm, moist cloth several times each day. Never squeeze a boil or attempt to cut it open at home because this can spread the infection and make it worse.
You need treatment if the carbuncle lasts longer than 2 weeks, returns frequently, is located on the spine or the middle of the face, or occurs along with a fever or other symptoms. Treatment helps reduce complications related to an infection.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Deep or large lesions may need to be drained by a health care provider.
Proper hygiene is very important to prevent the spread of infection. Always wash your hands very well after touching a carbuncle. Do not re-use or share washcloths or towels -- this can cause the infection to spread. Clothing, washcloths, towels, and sheets or other items that contact infected areas should be washed in very hot (preferably boiling) water. Bandages should be changed frequently and thrown away in a bag that can be tightly closed.
Carbunculus may heal on their own. Others usually respond well to treatment. However, a carbuncle can return again and again for months or years following the first infection.
Call your health care provider if:
Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 90.
Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 9.
Lopez FA. Skin and soft tissue infections. Infect Dis Clin North Am. Dec 2006; 20(4): 759-72, v-vi.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885