Pus

Pus wound

Overview

Environmental pollution, microbial infections, stress and numerous other factors may contribute to diseases of varying complexities. The part of the human body that is most sensitive to all the above factors is the skin. Hence the skin gets severely affected in most of the cases and may eventually lead to skin diseases of serious nature. A very common form of skin disorder is skin rashes. It may equally affect people belonging to all age groups and ethnic groups. These rashes often worsen and take the form of blisters filled with a whitish substance.

 

What is pus?

Pus woundIt is a sticky thick yellowish or pale greenish fluid that is often contained in the blisters or rashes formed due to microbial infections. These pus-filled blisters are mainly seen in bacterial or fungal infections. Pus is rich in a protein-type fluid called “liquor puris”. It also contains leukocytes that are produced by the immune response of the body.

During any kind of infection, the macrophages discharge chemicals known as cytokines, which in turn trigger the neutrophils. The latter releases granules which kill the pathogen. The pathogen, in turn, releases toxin known as leukocidins which helps in resisting the immune response. This can cause the death of the neutrophils due to destruction by the macrophages. This eventually leads to the formation of pus.

 

What does it look like?

Generally, it has a yellowish white color. In some cases, due to the presence of a myeloperoxidase, which is an antibacterial protein of greenish color, the pus may have a greenish tinge. Pseudomonas infection can form greenish, bad-smelling pus. The greenish color is attributed to a bacterial pigment known as pyocyanin.

Brownish pus is formed in liver abscesses caused by the amoeba. It is also foul-smelling and resembles an “anchovy-paste”. In general, an abscess is formed when an amount of pus gets trapped in a tissue space. Pustules may form due to build-up below the epidermis.

 

What are the different bacteria that form pus?

Pus wound in toesThe bacteria responsible for the formation of pus are known as pyogenic bacteria. The following species are often involved-

  • Staphylococcus aureus: It causes diseases like- skin infections, bone infections, joint infections and food poisoning.
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis: These infections are common in patients using an intravenous catheter or prosthetic devices.
  • Streptococcus pyogenes: The common diseases are- cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis.
  • Escherichia coli: It is the main causative factor of different gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Streptococcus pneumonia: It mainly causes respiratory disorders.
  • Salmonella typhi: It causes typhoid.
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae: It causes different sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea.
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis: This causes tuberculosis and other associated infections.

 

What are the different fungi that form pus?

Following are the different types of fungal infections that cause pus formation-

  • Nail fungus: The fungal agents that belong to this category are- dermatophytes, yeasts, and non-dermatophyte molds. Nail fungus or “Onychomycosis” is a medical term for a particular nail disease mediated by fungal infections. The nail, in this case, is called “mycotic nail” and is severely damaged in most of the cases. With the gradual growth and spread of the fungus, the nails become hard, thickened and yellowish with corroded edges and can even be uprooted in case of extreme damage. Nail fungus not only affects the nails but also damages the surrounding skin and underlying tissues.
  • Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal infection caused by the tinea species that affects both human beings and other animals. It forms elevated reddish patches and pus-filled blisters. This infection is highly contagious.
  • Scalp psoriasis: Scalp psoriasis is the medical condition in which scaly patches and reddish plaques appear in different regions of the scalp. Under such conditions, the immune system of the body mistakes the dead skin cells as harmful foreign substances and attacks the skin itself. This results in the formation of whitish or greyish flakes on the skin along with itching, redness, and tenderness. Pus-filled blisters form at a more advanced stage.

 

What are the different types of pus-filled eruptions?

Eruptions or blisters that are filled with pus are of different types and occur in different types of infections. These are given below-

  • Papules: They are also called micro comedones and appear as clusters producing a rough patch on the skin. A single papule is seen as a reddish eruption on the skin. These are usually caused due to the localized reaction on the skin and are inflammatory in nature. They are painful and extremely sensitive when touched.
  • Macule: Macules usually form as after-effects of papules. They appear as scaly spots with prominent borders and usually leave impressions after getting peeled off.
  • Pustules: They are also called “zits” or pimples and are often filled with pus. They are usually very sensitive and might transform into cysts in certain cases.
  • Nodules: They appear as irregular elevations on the skin and are painful when touched. Nodules are more critical in characteristics and are deep-rooted within the skin. They might lead to a gradual destruction of the underlying tissues and must be taken care of immediately after occurrence.
  • Cysts: Cysts are the most critical forms of acne so far and erupt as pus-filled lesions. They can intrude the deeper layers of skin, causing permanent damage to tissues.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Pus or pus-filled blisters are diagnosed through the following techniques-

  • Blood and swab tests
  • Fluid test
  • RAST (Radio Allergosorbent Test)


Treatment & prevention

Pus in diabetic footThe treatment method(s) used for treating pus depends upon the cause of the pus and also the severity of the pus infection. In mild cases, a warm and wet piece of sterile cloth can be used to compress and drain the pus. Care should be maintained when draining pus from a wound since it might lead to secondary bacterial infections. It is always wise to opt for expert medical help when draining larger and deeper pus wounds. The doctor will either drain the pus with the help of a needle or by making an incision just below the pus wound.

For proper treatment of any kind of such blisters, it is necessary to find the root cause. Doctors usually recommend protective measures such as well ventilated clothes and shoes, or friction pads (for athletes) in order to reduce possibilities of blisters and eruptions containing pus.

While it is impossible to completely prevent the onset of pus and pus wounds, one can still decrease the likelihood of getting these by practicing the following methods:

  • Not sharing shaving equipment such as razors.
  • Keeping wounds clean, dry, and covered.
  • Scratching pimples or trying to pick them with any sharp object.

Facts

  • The main constituents of pus are white blood cells, infection-causing microbes, and some amount of decomposed body tissues.
  • Depending upon the nature and magnitude of the infection, the pus could be green, yellow, or brown in color.

Facts

  • Pus is a protein-rich fluid since it contains leukocytes (white blood cells).
  • One liter of cow’s milk contains roughly 200 million pus cells.

Facts

  • Pus discharge indicates that a wound is healing in the normal way, with microbes and infected tissues being flushed out of the system.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Pus formations after surgery should be immediately reported to the physician.
  • If the point of pus bursts open on its own, then wipe the entire area with a clean piece of cotton and press the end of the wounds to expel the pus completely. Apply antibiotic cream/ointment and cover the area with a clean bandage.
  • Turmeric is an excellent substance to apply to pus wounds because it has high anti-microbial properties.
Don'ts
  • Try to drain the pus at home, in case of large pus build-up. Refer to a doctor for surgical removal or drainage of the fluid.
  • Avoid going to the doctor if the pus formation is accompanied by fever and weakness.
  • Use turmeric as the sole method of treating the pus wound.

 

 

 

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