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What Are the Different Methods of Carbuncle Treatment?

If a doctor is needed to remove large carbuncles, the patient will need to be sure to keep the area clean, including changing gauze dressings.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Carbuncles are tender, inflamed lumps that are usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, infections. Masses appear just under the surface of the skin and produce pus-filled boils. Most small carbuncles eventually go away on their own in two to three weeks, though home carbuncle treatment remedies can significantly reduce symptoms and overall healing time. Keeping the carbuncle clean, applying a warm compress, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain and swelling. Very large or persistent boils require medical care at a hospital or dermatologist's office to avoid permanent scarring and other complications.

The primary goal of home carbuncle treatment is to promote fast, thorough drainage of boils. Doctors strongly warn against trying to pop carbuncles, however, as doing so could spread the bacteria and leave a permanent scar. Instead, drainage can be induced with moist heat. An individual can apply a warm compress or a damp washcloth to the affected area of skin several times a day. In addition to speeding up drainage, the heat has a soothing effect on the tender skin.

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Keeping infected boils clean is an important element of carbuncle treatment as well. Since a person's immune system is already weakened due to staph infection, other bacteria that come into contact with an open boil can more easily invade the body and worsen symptoms. Washcloths and compresses should be thoroughly cleaned between each use, and the carbuncle itself should be cleaned regularly with hand soap and water. With proper carbuncle treatment, boils usually crust over within a few days and disappear in a couple of weeks.

If home remedies are not effective at relieving symptoms after about three weeks, an individual should schedule an appointment with a doctor to learn about other forms of carbuncle treatment. A trained physician can drain large carbuncles manually by making precision cuts or punctures in individual boils and carefully drawing out pus. After draining boils, he or she cleans the area with antibacterial soap and dresses the wounds with gauze. A patient may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to treat the underlying staph infection.

Staph infections are highly contagious, and bacteria can be spread to others through direct contact, sharing utensils, or handling contaminated objects. A person with an active infection can take precautions to minimize the chances of spreading the bacteria. It is important to wash the hands regularly and use disinfectant soaps or sprays on shared counter tops, doorknobs, phones, and computer keyboards. An individual should also avoid sharing toiletries and towels with others until infection symptoms fully subside.

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Discuss this Article

anon345091
Post 4

I had a lesion on my calf that looked like an irregularly shaped age spot. It was removed and diagnosed as a furuncle. It had been there for about a year, never hurt and never drained. Is this possible?

ddljohn
Post 3

I've been suffering from carbuncles for years. From my experience, a hot compress is the best treatment for a carbuncle. When I feel a carbuncle developing, I start the hot compresses right away. I do it several times daily and I like to add some salt to the water because it cleans the skin and kills bacteria.

Turmeric is another great natural remedy. I make a paste with turmeric powder and water and apply it on the carbuncle and cover it with dressing. Turmeric has antibacterial properties. I also put turmeric in my food, to fight the bacteria from the inside out.

bear78
Post 2

@turkay1-- If it becomes infected (if the pus is green and has a foul smell or if there is a throbbing pain), then the carbuncle treatment will include antibiotics. If you have these symptoms, then see a doctor. But if it is not infected, it's enough to keep the carbuncle clean while it's draining.

Some people like to use a natural antibacterial like tea tree oil on the carbuncle to prevent infection and to encourage it to heal faster. But if you decide to use it, make sure the tea tree oil is diluted and don't apply it on broken skin. Also check for possible allergies by testing it on your arm first.

candyquilt
Post 1

I thought that the main staph infection treatment is antibiotics. Aren't antibiotics needed for carbuncles?

How do I keep my carbuncle free of infection while I wait for it to drain?

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