This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The carbuncle is a sort of compound boil, the several centers of suppuration being joined together. Carbuncles differ from boils, however, in the fact that they have a marked tendency to spread, and generally involve much more of the deeper portions of the connective tissue. Malignant pustule is a bad form of carbuncle communicated to man by infection from animals suffering with murrain or charbon. This form is quite often fatal. It may be contracted by handling the flesh or hides of animals which have died with the disease.
This affection may be treated after the same plan recommended for boils, but requires greater attention to the general health of the patient, as carbuncles seldom occur except when there is a very low state of the blood. An eminent Dublin physician recommends very highly the application of pressure, by means of strips of adhesive plaster applied over the carbuncle, beginning at the outer margin and covering all except two and a half inches in the center, which is left for the discharge. The strips will be loosened in a day or two, and must be renewed as the swelling decreases. A ten-grain solution of carbolic acid is a very excellent lotion for treating carbuncles after sloughing has taken place. Permanganate of potash, ten to twenty grains to the ounce, should be used when there is a fetid odor.