Treatment for a carbuncle incudes incision and drainage, which is the procedure used to open the carbuncle. Once the carbuncle is opened, bacteria and pus drain from the cavity. This procedure can be performed in the emergency room or clinic. Depending on the severity, treatment with antibiotics may also be required. In most cases, a carbuncle usually resolves within 2 weeks with proper treatment.
Treatment for a carbuncle may include:
- Apply warm compresses:
- Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 4 hours.
- Clean the skin thoroughly twice a day:
- Use mild soap and water.
- Do not scrub the carbuncle.
- Do not squeeze the carbuncle.
- Antibiotics for carbuncle
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, NeoProfen)
- Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail)
- Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, Aleve)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Narcotic pain medication:
- For moderate to severe pain
- For short term use only
- Incision and drainage for carbuncle
Incision and drainage includes:
- The skin is sterilized using rubbing alcohol or an antibacterial soap.
- A local anesthetic is injected into the tissues surrounding the carbuncle.
- An incision is made with a scalpel.
- Pus is drained from the carbuncle.
- The abscess cavity is flushed clean.
- In some cases, a rubber drain or a strip of sterile gauze is packed inside the abscess cavity.
- The gauze or drain placed inside the abscess cavity is usually removed 24-36 hours later.
Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat a carbuncle:
Continue to Carbuncle Home Care
- Shah AM, Supe AN, Samsi AB. Carbuncle--a conservative approach. J Postgrad Med. 1987 Apr;33(2):55-7. 
- Stulberg DL, Penrod MA, Blatny RA. Common bacterial skin infections. Am Fam Physician. 2002 Jul 1;66(1):119-24. 
- Trent JT, Federman D, Kirsner RS. Common bacterial skin infections. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2001 Aug;47(8):30-4.