Pus is one of the most unappetizing and unappealing things to see on your body. However, despite its disgusting appearance, it is also proof that your body is still immunocompetent and protecting your body from invasion from pathogens and other foreign bodies. While it is part of the normal inflammatory response, it can also harm your body in certain situations. Pus can normally be seen in infected skin wounds, and the most visible and obvious examples are the white pimples that plague the acne-ridden faces of growing adolescents. If it is oozing out of a wound, it is known simply as pus. If it is enclosed by tissue, it is called an abscess. Visible collections of pus, which usually occur on or beneath the superficial skin layer of the epidermis, are known as pustules or pimples.
Pus ranges from white to yellow or green in color, and has a thick viscosity that is almost mucoid. It is made up of dead tissue cells, damaged cells, the white blood cells called neutrophils, and the occasional bacteria. It is formed by protein-rich exudates referred to as the liquor puris – the fluid that comes from the white blood cells that have been damaged or destroyed in your body’s immune response against an infection.
There is also a wide variation of pus in color and in smell. Purulent discharge that is greenish blue has been associated with infections of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its pyocyanin pigment, and liver abscesses from amoeba have been known to be brownish. The odor ranges from severely foul-smelling to no smell at all. One of the most common etiologic agents of pus is the skin-dwelling bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which can produce gold-crusting pus and discharge.
Pus can spread infection, so it is important to make sure it is cleaned up well. Proper hand washing techniques with alcohol or disinfectant should be observed after handling pus-infected wounds. If your wounds are draining pus, you should make sure to cover it with sterile gauze to prevent the spread of further infection. Change the dressing at least twice a day, and make sure you use povidone-iodine or hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent for your wounds.
For pimples, which is the most familiar form of pus we will have to deal with, daily washing with ordinary soap and water is usually enough. Using hot compress on the pimple at least twice a day may be enough for the pimple to spontaneously resolve. Make sure you wash your hands after every time you handle a pimple or pus, or you might spread the infection to other parts of your body.
If pus is continually draining from a wound that becomes warm and larger, it may be a sign of cellulitis that your body is unable to fight off by itself. At this point, it is usually advisable for you to start consulting a doctor for the initiation of possible antibiotic therapy.
Pus can also form and gather in any part of our body, including our internal organs. Collections of pus inside the body are known as abscesses, and these will require puncture and drainage by a skilled surgeon to decrease the sheer amount of bacterial load. This may be necessary to make sure antibiotics are effective in eradicating the bacteria that thrive on the abscesses.