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What Are the Common Causes of Pus in the Foot?

By Madeleine A.
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Pus in the foot is caused by a bacterial infection. An ingrown toenail, for example, can lead to a bacterial infection and cause pain, tenderness, and swelling of the tissue around the toenail. In addition, redness, and an increase in temperature over the affected area can result from an ingrown toenail. Other than causing local symptoms, an ingrown toenail that produces pus can cause symptoms of a body-wide infection, including fever and chills, headache, nausea, and body aches.

Any wound in the foot that becomes infected can produce pus. Shoes that are too tight, diabetes, and even poor circulation can cause foot ulcers resulting that leak pus. To determine what is causing the infection, A healthcare provider may take a sample of the pus and send it out to a lab for evaluation. This sampling is referred to as a culture and sensitivity test, and it reveals not only which type of bacterial organism is present in the pus, but it can also reveal which antibiotics are likely to kill it.

Pus can appear as white, yellow, or dark green, and sometimes, it has a pink or bloody appearance. In addition, it may have a bad odor and a thick consistency. Those who have a pus-containing wound, or an abscess, should never attempt to lance it to release the pus. This can cause a severe infection and even lead to a condition known a septicemia, which is also known as blood poisoning.

Treatment for an infection in the foot includes oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, or both. When oral antibiotics are prescribed, it is important for the patient to complete the whole prescription, because stopping treatment before the recommended course has been completed might allow the infection to return. Side effects of oral antibiotics can be so intense that they cause patients to abandon their treatment. These side effects might include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If side effects occur, a medical professional can recommend ways to relieve them.

Other treatments for a foot infection include soaking the foot in warm water every few hours to reduce pain and inflammation and to draw out the pus. In addition, keeping the wound covered with a sterile dressing may prevent bacteria from getting into it. Since a foot infection with pus can be quite painful, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken to reduce symptoms.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Nov 09, 2013

Diabetics have to be extremely careful about foot injuries and infections.

I have diabetes and I injured my foot a few weeks ago. It was just a cut, so I cleaned it, put cream on it and left it alone. But the cut got infected and developed pus. I didn't even realize it for a while because I didn't feel anything. Numbness and tingly feet are common for diabetics and that can be a huge disadvantage when it comes to injuries.

Thankfully, I got the infection under control thanks to my doctor. He had my cut cleaned and disinfected and I took oral antibiotics for a week.

By stoneMason — On Nov 08, 2013

@ZipLine-- It's possible. There are more chances of that happening if you have a toenail fungal infection along with an ingrown toenail, which happens frequently.

What color was the pus? If it was yellow or green, there is an infection and you need to do something about it. Tea tree oil is a good natural remedy for toenail infections. If things get worse though, I think you should see a doctor.

By ZipLine — On Nov 08, 2013

Can a fungal foot infection cause pus underneath the toenail?

I have toenail fungus and I'm trying to treat it with natural remedies. It's working but taking some time. Yesterday, I noticed some pus underneath a toenail. Should I be worried?

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