Pus is an accumulation of dead white blood cells with fungus or bacteria in infected tissues located beneath the epidermis, e.g. the fat tissues. Pus accumulated in a site of infection is commonly thick, yellowish in color, and might emit foul odor. In severe wounds, pus drainage might contain blood as well. Pus is indeed visually disgusting, yet this is a sign that your white blood cells are present in your body to combat infection caused by bacteria or fungus. Most infections with pus drainage is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria which are present in our skin.
Treatments for pus drainage
Although pus drainage which comes with skin abscesses is normal and a sign that the body is combating harmful bacteria, ignoring pus present in a wound is not recommended. Observing pus development is important, so that proper treatments can be performed.
- If pus comes from small skin abscesses or pimples, which is located beneath the epidermis, the treatment is simpler and merely done by applying hot compresses on the affected area. To do the treatment, soak a clean towel into a warm water and apply it directly onto the pimples for 5 minutes. This should reduce swelling which usually comes with pus drainage in pimples. The compress also promotes faster healing process by opening the pimples up and let the drainage out, so that the abscessed skin will dry and heal faster.
- With larger abscesses or infection, hot compresses can also be applied. However, you might need to see the doctor to discuss whether or not you should take antibiotics to combat the infection internally.
Should pus from an infection be drained?
In some cases, where pus comes with large wound or abscesses, antibiotics might not be enough to clear the infected sites. Instead, pus present in the infected area should be drainage in order to promote proper healing and prevent it from spreading. In fact, skin abscess which is not drained might grow continuously and be filled with pus, which can be painful and might cause internal problems. When infection is present, and you are feeling its symptoms, such as:
- High fever
- Redness and swelling around the infection site
- Elevating pain
- Foul-smelling pus drainage
- Hardened abscess
you may drain the pus, but it is better to see the doctor afterwards, to make sure that the infection is not spreading. Meanwhile, do the steps of draining pus safely:
- Clean the infected area by washing it off with gentle soap.
- Rinse and pat dry with a clean towel or paper towel.
- Clean the wound or abscess with peroxide or chlorhexidine—more expensive yet more gentle than peroxide, thoroughly.
- Remove any debris if any. Make sure you have washed your hands properly before performing this.
- Apply antibiotic ointment—polysporin ointment is suggested.
- Cover the wound or abscess with soft gauze to promote moist environment.
- See the doctor to see whether antibiotics—topical or oral should be taken.
In case you develop severe abscess, you might require a small incision procedure to drain the pus. The doctor normally performs this procedure under local anesthetic. To perform this, doctor will follow some basic steps:
- Clean the wound with saline solution to get rid of existing harmful bacteria around the site of infection. Other kinds of sterile solution might be used.
- Drain the pus by making an incision on the site of infection to allow the pus to drain out.
- When all pus has been drained, the hole caused by the procedure will be cleaned thoroughly using a saline solution or other antiseptic cleaner.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover the wound using a sterilized gauze by leaving the wound open—no stitches used. Leaving the wound open is important to let produced pus out naturally.
- Oral antibiotics may be prescribed if necessary.
- When the wound heals, small scar might be visible as the result of incision procedure.
- Patient undergoing pus draining incision should clean the wound and change the dressing regularly, especially if there is continuous pus drainage occurring after the incision. This will promote proper healing and prevent further infection.