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What Are the Common Causes of Brown Pus?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Brown pus is the result of a bacterial infection. These infections and the brown pus that accompany them can appear in response to an infected surgical wound, a boil or carbuncle, and a tooth abscess. Typically, infections that produce brown pus are painful and generally produce other symptoms as well. Symptoms associated with a purulent or pus-containing infection include pain, inflammation, redness, and an increase in temperature over the site. In addition, fever, chills, body aches, nausea, and vomiting may also occur in response to a systemic infection.

Although an infection can cause brown pus, the color of pus may also take on a yellow or white appearance or even look red. When this occurs, it is generally the result of a combination of blood and pus. In addition, pus can be green, or even black. An infected area that is affected with pus should never be disturbed by the patient and should only be handled by a health care provider. Patients should not attempt to squeeze the pus out of a wound because this could exacerbate the infection or cause the infection to spread to other parts of the body.

A tooth abscess usually causes excruciating pain and may be accompanied by a headache, earache, or facial pain. In addition, facial swelling, numbness, and a bad taste in the mouth may also occur. A tooth abscess needs to be treated promptly to avoid swallowing infected pus and possibly causing a blood infection. Treatment for an abscessed tooth generally involves taking antibiotics and in some cases, extraction of the tooth. Oral infections can quickly progress to systemic infections and will need prompt intervention and treatment to avoid the risk of complications.

When deep tissue infections occur, the health care provider may need to scrupulously clean the wound and irrigate it with a special antibacterial solution to decrease the bacterial count. In addition, topical antibiotic ointments and frequent dressing changes may be required to avoid further formation of pus. Infections that produce copious amounts of brown pus may need to be treated at a hospital with intravenous antibiotics, and certain severe infections may require surgery. Minor pus-producing infections, such as those caused by ingrown toenails, can be treated with warm foot soaks and over-the-counter antibiotic ointments.

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Discussion Comments

By ysmina — On Dec 01, 2013

The only time I had brown pus was when I had a urinary tract infection. I had a few symptoms before too, like difficulty urinating, but I knew it was something serious when I saw the brown pus.

By ZipLine — On Dec 01, 2013

@ddljohn-- I'm not sure, have you seen a doctor? I think that fungal infections can cause pus. But you might have a bacterial infection due to an ingrown nail as well.

I had a nail infection with brown pus once because I pulled a hang nail and caused it to bleed. I didn't clean it or use antibiotic cream and it became infected. The pus was yellowish, brownish and smelled bad. My doctor told me to use antibiotic cream and I also soaked my fingers in hot water every day.

Have you been doing foot soaks? You should soak your feet in hot water. A drop of two of tea tree oil in the water will help fight the infection as well.

By ddljohn — On Dec 01, 2013

Is brown pus only caused by bacterial infections or can it be caused by fungal infections as well?

I have a toenail fungal infection along with brown pus on the side of the nail. I assumed that they are related, am I wrong?

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