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eMed previously Babylon Health


Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 5th April 2019

Carbuncles are a collection of boils. Boils are pus filled and painful red bumps that form on the skin.


The cause is usually a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus.

Risk factors

  • Having diabetes puts you at risk of boils and carbuncles
  • Being immunosuppressed
  • Having a skin condition predisposes you to skin infections and developing boils and carbuncles

Typical Symptoms

  • Large painful bump on the skin
  • Commonly found on the neck, shoulders, back or thighs
  • Feeling feverish or generally unwell

Common Treatment

  • Antibiotics
  • Sometimes boils and carbuncles need draining

When to speak to a doctor

Boils and carbuncles can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

It is important to speak more urgently to a doctor if you:

  • Have a boil or carbuncle on your face
  • Are feeling very unwell or have a high fever
  • Are in a lot of pain or have a rapidly enlarging boil/carbuncle
  • Have redness starting to spread on the skin around the boil/carbuncle

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.


Carbuncles can be managed and prevented by:

  • Treating other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis

Keeping your blood sugar levels well controlled in diabetes.

More information


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.