Pus – Causes, Treatment & Help


Pus or pus (hence the term pustules) is caused by tissue melting by leukocytes in an area of ​​inflammation. The pus is to be understood as a biological degradation product of the body. Mainly pus is found in inflammation of the skin, gums and inflammation of hair roots.

What is pus?

Pus is a mostly yellowish discharge that occurs as a result of an inflammatory reaction within the cells of vertebrates, including humans. The basis of the underlying inflammation , which causes pus to form as a result of the body’s own defenses through leukocytes, bacteria and tissue breakdown, is usually a bacterial infection.

Essentially, pus is the body’s response to an infection and shows that it is fighting it. The consistency of pus can vary greatly (thick or thin), and the color can also vary from yellow to blue-green. The smell also differs depending on the type of bacteria. If the pus dries up, this means that the healing process is underway.

In rare cases, pus is non-infectious. This can be the case, for example, with pustular psoriasis .


Basically, pus is a defensive function of the body in response to invading bacteria. The usually yellowish liquid is caused by the use of leukocytes in the body, helper cells that dissolve in pus along with tissue and bacteria when they die. Pus often develops for no apparent reason, i.e. without an infection being recognizable.

Basically, pus can form anywhere in the body. An encapsulated collection of pus in the tissue is called an abscess . In body cavities it is called empyema. A boil – an inflamed hair – is called a boil .

Blisters of pus are called pustules (from the Latin pus = pus). In addition, suppuration can also occur in the teeth or eyes. Age-related pus-filled pimples during puberty are also known , but they are part of normal hormonal changes.

Diseases with this symptom


If abscesses form from the pus , there is a risk that the inflammation will spread further. It can lead to phlegmon, an enlargement of the focus of pus in the connective tissue , often accompanied by severe pain and redness in the affected region as well as fever and warming of the skin . If such an abscess occurs in connection with other diseases or in the case of an already weakened immune system, this can lead to organ failure or circulatory collapse in extreme cases .

Diseases with risk factors: alcoholism , various types of cancer and diabetes mellitus . Pus can also lead to complications, such as when it leaks from a wound into the bloodstream or organs. The main dangers here are the development of various poisonings or even edema if an abscess in the brain or in the jaw region opens and the secretion gets into the brain.

Such a brain abscess leads to headaches , nausea and vomiting on the one hand and serious speech and vision disorders up to paralysis and epileptic seizures on the other, but thanks to modern medicine it is rarely fatal. The surgical intervention, which is necessary to remove the abscess, is also not without risk and can, in the worst case, lead to permanent brain damage.

Corresponding abscesses can also occur in the organs, whereby the complications depend on a wide variety of factors and can vary greatly from person to person.

When should you go to the doctor?

Pus is easily recognized by its yellow color. The secretion forms when there is inflammation. Purulent inflammations are almost always based on a bacterial infection involving white blood cells, the leukocytes. They function as the body’s defenses. With that, pus means struggle in the body. There are few exceptions where pus is not caused by an infection. An example of this is psoriasis .

Pus can form anywhere in and on the body. Nobody should put off a visit to the doctor here. The cause must be found as quickly as possible so that treatment can be initiated quickly. Because pus means a stressed and weakened immune system , the entire body is vulnerable. In the worst case, it can even lead to a circulatory collapse or organ failure. Abdominal pus can also be dangerous. A classic example is the “ruptured appendix “.

If the inflamed appendix is ​​not operated on in time, it ruptures due to the pressure of the pus that collects in it, whereupon the secretion pours into the abdomen with potentially life-threatening consequences. A similar event can occur with further accumulations of pus in the body.

By now it should be clear how important it is to see a doctor if you have pus discharges or accumulations of pus. Fear of a possible operation, which can definitely be necessary here, should not prevent anyone from visiting a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

Basically, pus is first treated by breaking it open, i.e. draining it. Septic surgery involves cutting open abscesses and inserting drains. Irrigate-suction drains are also common to keep a wound clean. Antibiotics , on the other hand, are only effective in certain cases (such as liver abscesses) and not at all in others because they do not penetrate to the concentrated core of the pus.

Drain the pus, this is necessary to avoid possible blood poisoning . This should also prevent scattering in the body. This knowledge dates back to ancient times.

Honey has long been known as a home remedy. In the case of purulent inflammations on the skin, it is simply applied, closes the wound and damages the bacteria. However, the honey must not have been heated. Chamomile tea or St. John’s wort oil also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Of course, if serious infections or internal abscesses form, a doctor must be consulted to clarify the causes and initiate treatment.

Outlook & Forecast

If a wound has a build-up of pus, it should always be checked out by a doctor. If a pus blister develops, you should never open it yourself. This should only be done by a professional. Opening a pus sac can have serious consequences, such as blood poisoning.

Often pus forms when the hair roots or gums are inflamed . As a rule, such inflammation should subside after around three to four days. If there is no improvement after this time or if the formation of pus has increased, a doctor should be consulted urgently. If such wounds are not treated by a doctor, an abscess can form and the inflammation spreads further in the body. A visit to the doctor should not be postponed for long if there is a build-up of pus, because the cause must be clarified and treated as quickly as possible in such a case.

Taking antibiotics can effectively curb the formation of pus. Other active ingredients, such as chamomile , also have an anti-inflammatory effect and prevent the further formation of pus fluid.


Pus in a wound that has already been cleaned can only be kept away by keeping the wound clean and preventing new germs from entering. When treated with antibiotics, they need to be taken long after the symptoms are gone to kill weaker bacteria that might otherwise start to multiply again.

Otherwise, preventing the formation of pus means preventing a bacterial infection. Depending on which bacteria are the cause, various preventive measures can be considered here.

Pus pimples and pus in the frame of a pronounced acne should first be examined by a dermatologist and treated and prevented with suitable means. For more information on these topics, see our articles: Acne and Pimples .

You can do that yourself

Pus occurs in everyone and does not necessarily have to be a medical complication. It mainly occurs with wounds or pimples . Where there is pus, it should definitely be broken open. Breaking up the pus can prevent infection of the blood and allow the pus to drain. This relieves the wound and thus promotes healing. However, minor wounds and pimples heal even if the pus is not drained. The process usually takes a little longer here.

To remove the pus, it must be broken open with a pointed object. A needle or tweezers can be used for this, for example. However, the patient should be careful not to injure surrounding areas. After the pus has been broken up, it drains away. Here the person concerned can help by pressing and thus enable the complete discharge. After squeezing, the site should always be disinfected . Rinses and other cosmetic products are suitable for this.

If there is a larger accumulation of pus, it is better for the doctor to remove it. Inflammation and infection can occur as a result of unclean removal. The wound usually heals after a few days and does not lead to any further complications.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.