What Causes the Formation of Pus?

Anna B. Smith
Anna B. Smith
An ingrown hair with yellow pus.
An ingrown hair with yellow pus.

The formation of pus is caused by the death of tissues and cells surrounding an infection in the body. This symptom can occur on the surface of the skin or internally. Different treatment methods are available for individuals suffering from this symptom, depending on the location of the infection and its severity.

Pus may appear as a whitish or yellowish tinged substance which oozes when exposed to the air. When pus forms on the surface of the skin, it is typically referred to as a pustule or pimple. When pus forms beneath the skin, it is often known as an abscess. It can occur in the internal organs and tissues of the body, or the muscles and bones.

Washing the face regularly may help to reduce the bacteria that causes pus formation in pimples.
Washing the face regularly may help to reduce the bacteria that causes pus formation in pimples.

The formation of pus often indicates the presence of a bacterial infection somewhere in the body, whether beneath the skin or in a wound which begins at the surface of the skin. This foreign matter will only present itself after the infection has set in and the body has begun to fight it. It often means that the bacteria has been present for a lengthy amount of time, though the individual may not have previously been aware of it.

Pus often results from an infection.
Pus often results from an infection.

Pus is usually comprised of dead white blood cells, tissues, and other forms of biochemical debris. When an infection sets into an area of the body, white blood cells are among the first defenders sent to the site. They aggressively attack the infection and attempt to kill all foreign cells which do not belong and can harm the body. As the white blood cells successfully eliminate damaging bacterial cells, these dead cells may remain lodged in the wound and begin damaging the surrounding tissue. When this type of matter begins to accumulate, it has the potential to prevent further healing from taking place, and the body will seek to expel it.

Pus at the site of a wound may indicate a bacterial infection.
Pus at the site of a wound may indicate a bacterial infection.

Different treatments are available to heal such wounds after the formation of pus has appeared. Minor topical wounds should be cleaned with soap and water at least twice a day and bandaged to prevent the intrusion of more dirt and bacteria. They can also be coated with antibacterial ointment which will fight surface bacteria which is always present on the skin. Internal abscesses should be addressed by a medical professional, and may only be diagnosed after exposure to highly sensitive imaging equipment, such as sonograms and x-rays. These infections are often treated with oral antibiotics and surgical removal.

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Discussion Comments

ddljohn

@turkay1-- For the most part, the body will be able to clean itself of pus. Pus is a sign that the immune system is functioning well. It means that the disease fighting cells have destroyed bacteria successfully. A properly functioning immune system will also be able to get rid of the pus after the process is over.

It's more of a concern if there is no pus after an infection because that means the immune system is not responding as it should.

Sometimes, pus can re-appear in the same place over and over again. If that happens, it means the immune system needs help to get rid of a persistent or chronic infection. That's where antibiotics and other treatments come in.

SarahGen

@turkay1-- The article already answered this. The treatment for internal bacterial infections are antibiotics. If there is pus that cannot be expelled naturally by the body, then it has to be removed.

I don't know what happens if it's never diagnosed though. I imagine it would cause illness.

candyquilt

I didn't realize that pus can form inside the body. I thought that it always occurs on skin.

When there is an infection on the skin with pus, it eventually oozes out and sort of cleans itself. But how does the body deal with pus that's inside the body?

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    • An ingrown hair with yellow pus.
      An ingrown hair with yellow pus.
    • Washing the face regularly may help to reduce the bacteria that causes pus formation in pimples.
      Washing the face regularly may help to reduce the bacteria that causes pus formation in pimples.
    • Pus often results from an infection.
      Pus often results from an infection.
    • Pus at the site of a wound may indicate a bacterial infection.
      Pus at the site of a wound may indicate a bacterial infection.
    • Antibacterial ointments can be applied to prevent skin infections.
      Antibacterial ointments can be applied to prevent skin infections.
    • Pus may need to be drained by a doctor in order to reduce the risk of scarring, especially when the pimple or pustule occurs on the face.
      Pus may need to be drained by a doctor in order to reduce the risk of scarring, especially when the pimple or pustule occurs on the face.
    • Oral antibiotics may be required to treat pus associated with an infection.
      Oral antibiotics may be required to treat pus associated with an infection.
    • Bandaging a wound can help prevent infection and therefore prevent the formation of pus.
      Bandaging a wound can help prevent infection and therefore prevent the formation of pus.
    • Surgical removal may be required to treat infected wounds.
      Surgical removal may be required to treat infected wounds.
    • Pus can form as a result of wounds on the surface of the skin or from internal wounds.
      Pus can form as a result of wounds on the surface of the skin or from internal wounds.