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Boils and Carbuncles

What are boils and carbuncles?

Boils are pus-filled lesions that are painful and usually firm. Boils are usually located in the waist area, groin, buttocks, and under the arm.

Carbuncles are clusters of boils. These are usually found on the back of the neck or thigh.

What are the symptoms of boils, and carbuncles?

The following are the most common symptoms of boils and carbuncles; each child may experience symptoms differently.

Symptoms for boils may include:

  • Pus in the center of the boil

  • Whitish, bloody discharge from the boil

Symptoms for carbuncles (clusters of boils) may include:

  • Pus in the center of the boils

  • Whitish, bloody discharge from the boils

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

The symptoms of boils and carbuncles may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How are boils and carbuncles diagnosed?

Diagnosis of boils and carbuncles are made by your child's physician after a thorough medical history and physical examination. After examining the lesions, your child's physician may culture the wounds (obtain a sample of the drainage of the wound, allow it to grow in the laboratory, and identify specific bacteria) to help verify the diagnosis and to help in selecting the best treatment.

Treatment for boils and carbuncles

Specific treatment for boils and carbuncles will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • A warm compress may be used to help promote drainage of the lesion

  • Oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics (to treat the infection)

  • Possible removal of the boils and carbuncles

Carbuncles heal more slowly than a single boil. Keeping the skin clean helps to prevent these conditions from occurring.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 314.454.5437 or 800.678.5437 or email us

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