Have you had a white pimple on your face or a cut that oozes white or yellowish stuff?

The slightly yellow, white or sometimes green thick fluid is called pus. They are a buildup of dead white blood cells and are often commonly seen in pimples.

Though their appearance can be ugly and disgusting, having pus is actually a good sign. It simply means that your white blood cells are effectively fighting off the infections that have entered your body.

Now that sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Keep on reading to know more about pus.

What Is Pus?

Also known as liquor puris, pus is a fluid that is rich in protein and is usually yellow, whitish-yellow, or yellow brown in color.

When foreign bodies that cause infection try to evade us, our body’s immune system automatically triggers an action to fight the foreign particles. Pus is formed through a buildup of dead white blood cells as a result of the immune system’s heroism in protecting our body from infection and inflammation. Pimple or pustule is formed when the buildup is near or on the surface of your skin.

Why is pus yellow?

Color of the pus can be impacted by certain factors such as where enzymes and proteins are concerned, what it’s made of and the type of condition or disease that our immune system is fighting.

Pus that is yellow in color is usually considered a “normal” pus as this is the color that’s often produced when our body is fighting off the so-called “common bacteria”.

There are some white blood cells that produce myeloperoxidase, a green antibacterial protein, and this result to a green pus.

What Causes Pus?

Bacteria and fungi can sometimes enter our body and may lead to infection. When our immune system detects these foreign bodies, it declares a war zone to oust them out or limit the damage of the infection. This process does not only protect us from getting sick but can also lead to the formation of pus.

How are they created?

Our body has different types of white blood cells that work together in attacking the organism that are responsible for infection. First we have neutrophils which attack specifically bacteria or fungi. We also have macrophages which releases an alarm system called cytokines when foreign bodies are detected. Cytokines, on the other hand, are responsible for alerting the neutrophils which then creates a filter in the blood stream.

Neutrophils work fast in attacking the affected area. The presence of pus is formed when there is a rapid accumulation of dead neutrophils.

Pus after surgery

So now you know "what is pus" and the common cause of it, but you may also notice it after surgery. In this condition, it gives you both a good news and bad news. Good news because it’s an affirmation that the immune system of your body is fighting off the infection. Bad news because there is a post-surgery complication which is in the form of an inspection.

When you detect a discharge of pus after surgery, you should inform your doctor immediately. You will more likely be prescribed with antibiotic and ointments. Your doctor may also recommend a special incision program. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed by physicians as it aids the white blood cells in attacking the infection, prevents complication brought by infection and speeds up the healing process.

Take note of this. Do not use peroxide or alcohol and slather the incision with antibiotic cream. You should consult with your surgeon or doctor as soon as you noticed pus buildup after your surgery.

How to Deal with Pus

Though having pus is your body’s sign that your immune system is actively fighting off the inspection, this should not be the reason that you should take pus for granted. We should never ignore the presence of pus in a wound. Proper treatment can be given when we cautiously observe the development of pus.

Treatment for pus that comes from pimples or skin abscesses

This requires a simple treatment by applying a hot compress in the affected area. First, soak a clean towel into warm water and apply it directly into the affected area for 5 minutes. The compress will reduce the swelling and also expedite the healing process as it opens the pimples up and let the drainage out.

Hot compress can also be applied with larger infection or abscesses. However, it is still recommended that you see a doctor as you may be needed an anti-biotic prescription to fight the infection internally.

Could You Drain Pus from an Infection?

Knowing "what is pus", its causes and management may not be enough without answering this question. Though antibiotics are prescribed to cases where pus comes with large abscesses or wounds, sometimes they may not be enough to heal the infection and clear the site. This is where pus drainage comes in.

Drainage of pus in the infected area is necessary to prevent infection from spreading and to promote proper healing. As a matter of fact, skin abscess that are not drained may continue to grow and form more pus, which is not only painful but can also lead to internal problems.

It is recommended that you drain the pus when you feel these symptoms along with an infection:

  • Swelling and redness around the infected site

  • High fever

  • Pain that is increasing and elevating

  • Pus drainage that has a bad odor

  • Hardened abscess

How do you drain the pus safely and effectively? Follow these steps:

  1. Wash off the infected area with a mild soap.

  2. Pat dry using a paper towel or a clean towel.

  3. Clean the abscess or wound thoroughly with chlorhexidine or peroxide.

  4. If there is any debris, make sure to remove this.

  5. Apply antibiotic ointment such as polysporin ointment.

  6. Using soft gauze, cover the abscess or wound to promote moist environment.

  7. Consult a doctor to discuss if antibiotic – whether oral or topical – should be taken.

There’s no need to be freaked out when you see a formation of pus in your skin. Now that you have fully understood "what is pus" and how it was formed, you can provide it with the proper attention and treatment that it needs.


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