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 Babylon 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