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A carbuncle is a red, swollen, painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin. Most common sites of carbuncles are the back, nape of the neck, buttocks, thighs, groin, and armpits where the skin is moist. Boils are bacterial infections that form under the skin usually affecting a single hair follicle. A carbuncle is a cluster of boils that have multiple pus “heads.” They involve more than one of the hair follicle and it is tender and painful and leads to severe infection which might leave a scar.

They vary in size and increases in size rapidly affecting nearby areas. It may be the size of a pea or as large as a golf ball. The carbuncle fills with pus and develops white or yellow tips that weep, ooze, or form crust. When a person develops many carbuncles, the condition is called carbunculosis. Most carbuncles are caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria but over the past decades, there has been a sharp increase in the infections caused by a special strain of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that is resistant to the usual penicillin-based antibiotic treatment. This is due to overuse of antibiotics for conditions that usually doesn’t require antibiotics.

Symptoms may include:

  • A small lump under the skin
  • Itching and tenderness over the lump
  • Oozing of pus or crusts
  • Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, and a feeling of general sickness. Swelling may occur in nearby tissue and lymph nodes especially in the neck, armpit, or groin.

Causes of a carbuncle

Most carbuncles are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. This infection is very contagious and easily spreads to other areas of the body and to other persons in contact with the affected. Often, the cause of a carbuncle cannot be determined.

Complications of Carbuncles

The bacteria or pus from a carbuncle can escape into the bloodstream and cause serious complications, including sepsis and infections in other parts of the body such as the lung, bones, joints, heart, blood, and central nervous system.

Risk Factors for Carbuncles

  • Old age
  • Obesity
  • Poor hygiene and poor health
  • Chronic skin diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Sharing personal items such as bed linens, towels, razor or clothing, etc
  • Being in close contact with the infected person

Management of Carbuncles

  • Keep your skin clean with a mild soap or antiseptic.
  • Warm compresses may promote the drainage and healing of carbuncles.
  • Place a clean, warm, moist cloth on the carbuncle for 15 minutes several times a day.
  • After each use, washcloths or cloths should be washed in hot water and dried at a high temperature.
  • Cover the area with a sterile bandage to promote drainage and healing and help prevent further infection from spreading.
  • Wash your hands after touching the carbuncle.
  • Never try to drain a carbuncle yourself since it will spread the infection and lead to sepsis

Prevention of carbuncles

  • Proper hygiene and healthy lifestyle can prevent the risk of developing a carbuncle:
  • Wash the hands properly before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Shower frequently to keep the skin germ and dirt free.
  • Avoid squeezing the boils or any skin lesions.
  • Wash clothes, sheets, and towels regularly in hot water.
  • Do not share washcloths or towels.
  • Bandages should be changed often and disposed safely.

Homeopathic treatment for carbuncles

Belladonna: This remedy is one of the best homeopathic remedy for early stages of carbuncle before pus formation. Redness of skin, hot, throbbing, and tender with intense pain and fever. Erysipelous around carbuncle. Pain aggravated by touch.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum: This remedy is the best remedy to speed up the formation of pus, drainage and healing. Indurated spots, pain intense, stinging and burning of edges of ulcer with corroding discharge.

Arsenicum album: This remedy is indicated in carbuncles with intense burning pain and offensive discharge. Better by warmth and hot applications and worse at night. The person may feel exhausted and ill, yet anxiety and discomfort also make them restless.

Calendula: This remedy is helpful as n antiseptic and external application for boils, carbuncles and infected sores. Internally it helps to overcome the infection.

Echinacea angustifolia: This is one of the best homeopathic remedy used to boost the immune system and as a blood purifier. Recurring boils.

Mercurius solubilis: This remedy is useful in cases of carbuncles with pus. Moist or greasy skin, with swollen lymph nodes. Warmth may aggravate the pain.

Tarentula cubensis: This remedy is indicated when a carbuncle is sore and swollen with stinging, burning pain, and purplish or bluish discoloration of surrounding tissues. Erysipelous, redness around the carbuncle, burning fever, great thirst and excessive pains in carbuncle.

Crotalus Horridus: It is very useful in cases where the carbuncle is surrounded by purplish mottled skin and edema.

Antrhacinum: It is the best homeopathic medicine for carbuncle with marked burning pain, abundant discharge of offensive pus. Sepsis from absorption of pus. The affected part is very sensitive and the part surrounding the gangrenous spot has dusky appearance. It is indicated for carbuncles and malignant ulcers. It is very effective when there is a succession of boils one after the other.

Bufo: Indicated for carbuncle with blueness, reddish or purplish streaks in neck, back and other parts. Malignant pustules.

Carbo veg: Indicated for carbuncles with dark, blackish appearance, burning pain and offensive discharge after gangrene has set in, blood poisoning and collapse.

Carbolic acid: It is a homeopathic medicine indicated for carbuncles with diabetes. The discharge is very offensive and is difficult to heal.

Lachesis: Carbuncles with disposition to ulcerate; dark bluish appearance; after perforation scanty discharge of thin, sometimes bloody pus.

Pyrogenum: Pyrogen is a great remedy for septic states, with intense restlessness. All discharges are horribly offensive. Great pain and violent burning in abscesses.

Rhus Tox: Indicated for carbuncle with burning, itching around carbuncle, when the pains are intense and the affected parts are dark and red.

Silicea: It is effective in cases of carbuncles with ulceration. It clears the wound of dead tissues and promotes healthy granulations. Furuncles appearing in crops, carbuncle between the shoulders and nape of the neck.

Merc iod : It is one of the best medicine for inflammatory stage of boils and carbuncles where there is no pus formation, intense redness with throbbing and pain. The discharge is greenish, thin and watery.

Staphylococcinum: It is generally an excellent remedy for carbuncle and furuncles.

Some of the best products for carbuncles from Schwabe India are Azadirachta indica 1x, Biocombination No. 20, Echinacea angustifolia 1X, Hepar Sulphuris Pentarkan, Topi Azadirachta Cream, Topi Heal Cream and Topi Sulphur Cream.