What is Pus?
Nobody likes pus, but who really knows what it is?
In this article, we’ll explain what pus is. We’ll also talk about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for those with pus.
What Is Pus?
We’ve all seen pus before. In fact, we’ve all had one condition or another which created pus. But what is pus exactly?
The National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health gave one of the best definitions of pus out there.
“It is a secretion from ulcerated surfaces,” writes the NIH. “When healthy, it is a thick yellowish liquid, formed of opaque globules floating in a clear fluid. When mixed with water, the globules fall, forming a yellow, insoluble sediment. Pus contains albuminous matter, fatty matter, and salts, and is coagulated by heat and acids.”
Pus will most likely appear on the body in one of two forms.
The first form pus will take is either a pimple or a pustule. Pimple’s are usually associated with acne. Even though pimples are a kind of acne, they are not exclusive to teenage faces. Pimples and pustules are simply defined as any pus-buildup located near the surface of the skin. Remember, sebum is not the same thing as pus.
The second form pus may take is what’s known as an abscess. An abscess is anytime there’s a collection or an accumulation of pus in an enclosed piece of tissue. You’ll see abscesses in infected wounds.
What Causes Pus?
Pus is a biological response to the body fighting off an infection. These infections can be either bacterial or fungal in nature. Pus can be caused by numerous skin and blood diseases such as:
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Carbuncles and boils
- Staph infections like MRSA
- Discoid eczema
- Bedsores and pressure ulcers
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, pus mostly consists of three parts:
Leukocytes - Leukocytes are also called white blood cells. These are the cells that are released by the body to fight off infections. White blood cells are dead by the time they appear as pus. The more pus there is the more white blood cells were required to try and fight off the infection.
Tissue debris - This could include dead skin cells, dead blood cells, and a variety of other tissues. As the infection spreads, it will naturally kill off a certain number of cells. Likewise, if your body is somehow damaged, it will shed old, useless material and will likely appear partially as pus.
Microorganisms - This could include the bacteria or fungus itself. The microorganism material will be a mixture of living and dead tissue. The dead microorganisms were killed by the aforementioned white blood cells, while the living microorganisms are actively pushed out by the body’s cells.
Another possible cause of pus is something known as surgical site infections. SSIs are infections that a patient develops in or around a surgical site. The skin is the body’s largest organ and its job is to protect the skin. When doctors and surgeons open the skin for surgery, there’s a small chance that it will lead to infection.
According to Johns Hopkins, SSIs only develop within 30 days of a surgery and only occur in about 1% to 3% of all surgeries. In other words, SSIs are not very common, but they’re also not unheard of. If you develop an SSI, your doctor will know exactly how to treat it.
Symptoms Of Pus
We’ve already explained what pus is. It’s the yellowish material that appears in pimples, pustules, and abscesses.
Pus doesn’t have symptoms so much as it is a symptom. If you’re experiencing pus, then you’re probably dealing with some larger infection or disease. Look for other symptoms aside from the pus, and look for a disease that shares those symptoms in common.
In most cases, pus is just a symptom of a garden-variety cut or acne.
Usually, the area surrounding the pus will be red in color. It can possibly be warm to the touch as well. According to Healthline, it’s possible that pus will be accompanied by flu-like symptoms.
These symptoms include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, know that these indicate a more serious infection. You should talk with your doctor and seek a more formal treatment regimen to combat the infection.
Pus Treatment Options
In most cases, it’s not necessary to seek medical attention for most small cases of pus-related infections. According to Medical News Today, most pus-filled infections will drain on their own and only require that you keep the skin clean. You can do that by either using an antibacterial ointment of some sort or hydrogen peroxide and a band-aid.
Just keep your wound clean and covered so it does not come in contact with other pathogens.
If you think your pus is a symptom of a larger, more serious infection or diseases, then you should see your doctor. He or she will be able to examine your symptoms, diagnose your condition, and offer you an effective treatment regimen.
Look Out For Pus
Pus usually means that your body is fighting an infection, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. Either way, you should always be aware of any and all pus that your body is producing, and whether it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
Hopefully, now you better understand what pus is and are better prepared to handle it should you have to.