Most carbuncles are caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus. The infection is contagious. This means it can spread to other areas of the body or other people.
A carbuncle is made up of several skin boils (furuncles). The infected mass is filled with fluid, pus, and dead tissue. Fluid may drain out of the carbuncle, but sometimes the mass is so deep that it cannot drain on its own.
Carbuncles can develop anywhere. But they are most common on the back and the nape of the neck. Men get carbuncles more often than women.
Because the bacteria that causes the condition is contagious, family members may develop carbuncles at the same time. Often, the cause of a carbuncle cannot be determined.
You are more likely to get a carbuncle if you have:
- Friction from clothing or shaving
- Poor hygiene
- Poor overall health
Persons with diabetes, dermatitis, and weakened immune systems are more likely to develop staph infections that can cause carbuncles.