Carbuncles are caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus (s. aureus) and can affect anyone though those with diabetes are more susceptible. Diabetic carbuncles possess an increased risk for patients, as those suffering from diabetes are more vulnerable to bacterial infection as well as soft tissue damage.

Defined by Paul Auwaeter, M.D., carbuncles occur when the “interconnecting subcutaneous abscesses arising from infection of several neighboring hair follicles” create a deep and wide lesion, which may develop into ulcers.

Carbuncles typically form on the neck, shoulders, hips, and thighs where friction, pressure, moisture, and lack of hygiene often force bacteria deeper into the skin (cutis).  Additionally, carbuncles occur more frequently in men (especially the elderly population) due to a larger proportion of body hair. Due to the bacterial natural of the abscesses, carbuncles are contagious and can spread to other areas of the body. Common symptoms include fever, itching, fatigue, and general discomfort.


Complications Associated with Diabetic Carbuncles


While often carbuncles can be treated with a hot compress, allowing for adequate time for them to drain on their own, complications more frequently occur with diabetics, and in patients with immune weakness, allowing the bacteria to reach deeper into the cutis, necessitating surgical drainage of pus, fluid, and dead tissues. Complications can arise with diabetic carbuncles when the soft tissues surrounding carbuncles become defective, resulting in the need for skin tags or grafts. In a medical report written by Jamal A Mohammad, M.D. and several colleagues, the most effective method of treatment for diabetic carbuncles is broad-spectrum antimocrobials when necessary and surgical intervention. Treatment by a medical doctor is particularly important for all individuals as an improperly treated staph infection can result in blood poisoning. Additionally, a methicillin-resistant s. aureus (MRSA), usually found in sterile settings such as hospitals or nursing homes, requires the use of alternative antibiotics.


Common Causes of Diabetic Carbuncles


While diabetics are at higher risk for infections such as carbuncles, diabetes may also be a cause when elevated glucose levels and/or an inhibited immune system fail to respond to infection, making them potentially life threatening. Dr. Mohammad and his colleagues further state that proper treatment in the diabetic requires swift diagnosis and treatment not only of the carbuncle but also of the diabetic state. Controlling glucose levels as prevention of further infection as well as ensuring that the immune system is healthy and functioning optimally both in resistance and response. Basic prevention for all individuals starts with hygiene, washing your hands regularly and keeping even minor wounds clean and covered.  Homeopathic remedies for carbuncles are tea tree oil to disinfect and herbs such as Echinacea and Withania somnifera.