What does pus discharge mean and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

Have you ever noticed a pus discharge from a wound or infection? It can be a concerning sight, but understanding what pus discharge means and what to do about it can help you take appropriate action. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and remedies for pus discharge, as well as provide valuable insights on how to treat it effectively.

Understanding Pus Discharge

Pus discharge, also known as pus drainage, is a common sign of an infected wound or infection. Pus is a thick, yellowish fluid that consists of dead white blood cells, bacteria, and tissue debris. It is the body’s natural response to fight off infection and remove harmful substances from the affected area.

Causes of Pus Discharge

There are several potential causes of pus discharge, including:

  • Infected wound: When bacteria enter a wound, it can lead to an infection, resulting in pus discharge.
  • Wound infection: Even without visible wounds, certain infections can cause pus discharge, such as cellulitis or abscesses.

Symptoms of Pus Discharge

Recognizing the symptoms of pus discharge is crucial for prompt treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Visible pus drainage from a wound or affected area.
  • Redness, swelling, and tenderness around the wound.
  • Increased pain or discomfort.
  • Fever or chills in severe cases.

Treating Pus Discharge

When dealing with pus discharge, it is essential to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. However, there are some remedies and self-care measures you can take to alleviate symptoms and promote healing:

1. Keep the area clean

Regularly clean the affected area with mild soap and warm water. Gently pat it dry and avoid scrubbing, as it can further irritate the wound.

2. Apply warm compress

Using a warm compress can help reduce pain and promote drainage. Soak a clean cloth in warm water, wring out excess moisture, and apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes several times a day.

3. Use over-the-counter ointments

Antibiotic ointments or creams can help prevent infection and promote healing. Apply a thin layer to the wound after cleaning and drying it.

4. Avoid picking or popping the wound

Resist the temptation to pick or pop the wound, as it can introduce more bacteria and worsen the infection. Let the body’s natural healing process take its course.

5. Take oral antibiotics

If the infection is severe or spreading, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to combat the bacteria causing the pus discharge. Follow the prescribed dosage and complete the full course of medication.

6. Seek medical attention

If the pus discharge persists, worsens, or is accompanied by severe symptoms like high fever or spreading redness, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional can assess the situation, provide appropriate treatment, and prevent complications.


Pus discharge from a wound or infection is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help you take appropriate action and promote healing. Remember to keep the affected area clean, apply warm compresses, use over-the-counter ointments, avoid picking or popping the wound, take prescribed antibiotics if necessary, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen. By following these tips, you can effectively manage pus discharge and support your body’s healing process.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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