Sources: An Epitome Of Homeopathic Healing Art

This affection, though it somewhat resembles a common boil, and is by

some writers considered only such, in an overgrown state, is,

nevertheless, far from being identical with it.

While a _boil_ is only a sanitive effort of nature to eliminate the

cause of a morbid process, and tends to a spontaneous, healthy

termination, the _carbuncle_, on the contrary, is the very essence of

disease; its constant tendency being towards the dissemination of

diseased action, causing destruction of the parts affected. It, in fact,

appears like a parasite, living by the destruction of surrounding

tissues, literally absorbing them and "thriving on death." It begins

with a red, livid color, slight aching and burning pains, the part

swells and is elevated some like a boil, except that it does not

"point," but has a broad base rising like a cone and flattened at the

top. It feels soft and spongy, and will appear to fluctuate, but if

punctured, blood only flows. The pain and burning increases rapidly, and

sooner or later several openings appear upon the top, varying from three

or four to half a dozen or more, looking like the holes in a sponge, out

of which issues a fluid like thin gruel. Instead of becoming easier

after the suppuration begins, as is the case with a boil, the burning

increases to an alarming and unbearable extent; cold chills, loss of

appetite, great depression of spirits, general nervous and muscular

debility come on. The tumor continues to discharge, turns purple;

gangrene beginning in the carbuncle extends to other parts and death


The disease is nearly always confined to quite feeble persons and those

past the meridian of life; but I have seen it on younger though feeble

patients. It is generally located on the back, occasionally on the head,

where it is very dangerous from its liability to affect the brain.


If treated very early, _strong tincture of Arnica_ applied to the

surface of the carbuncle, by cloths wet and laid over the tumor, will

often arrest it so that the swelling will not be developed to the

suppurative stage. However, to reap any benefit from _Arnica_, it must

be applied while the pain is not severe, and the parts only feel bruised

and tender to pressure, like a common bruise.

After the ulceration occurs, _Arsenicum_ is the great remedy to be

relied on. It should be given at the second or third attenuation as

often as every three hours, when the pain is severe, and applied to the

surface of the carbuncle freely by cloths laid over it, wet in the

first dilution, or by sprinkling the first trituration of the oxyde

(1-10) freely upon the open surfaces, so that it may penetrate into the

open mouths or orifices. Over this powder apply an emolient poultice, or

soft cloths wet in water hot as can be endured. This will soon allay or

greatly lessen the pain. It should be repeated as often as any of the

burning pain peculiar to the carbuncle returns, until the tumor

suppurates in a tolerably healthy manner; then lessen the strength of

the _Ars._ applications, and continue them until it has the appearance

of a healthy abscess, when only simple dressings are necessary. Some may

suppose such strong applications injurious, but I can assure them from

abundant experience, that there is not the slightest danger. The

carbuncle should _never be punctured_ or _cut into_. Such operations

always make them worse, and induce a more rapid approach to gangrene.

The patient should have nourishing food, and good native wine may be

taken in moderate quantities, by a very feeble person, with decided


Though the knife operations for the removal of carbuncle are always

injurious, the chemical effect of _Potash_ is frequently most

beneficial. I have, in repeated instances, applied to the ulcerated

surface, _caustic potash_ freely, allowing the dissolved caustic to

penetrate to the very "core" by running into the orifices. At first it

would produce some smarting, but the pain is different from that of the

carbuncle, and the change is agreeable rather than otherwise. Soon after

the application all pain ceases, and the tumor, under the use of a

poultice, begins to slough off in a few days, leaving a raw surface,

disposed to heal kindly. Occasionally, however, the healing process is

tardy, when _Arsenicum_, at the third, applied and taken internally,

will soon effect a cure.

I have occasionally used _Hepar Sul._ with good effect in the latter