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What Are the Common Causes of Swelling with Pus?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Pus is a buildup of fluids containing cells, tissue, and bacteria and is usually an indicator of an infection, marked by swelling or redness. Swelling with pus can be caused by any number of conditions, and is often referred to as an abscess. An abscess is a collection of pus with swelling or inflammation around it. In cases where swelling is visible, it is easier to identify and treat. In rarer cases, internal abscesses can occur that are harder to diagnose.

Some common causes of swelling with pus include an abscessed tooth, severe acne or rosacea, third-degree burns, and nail infections. Abscesses can occur most anywhere in the body, but they are often on or under the skin and in the mouth or throat. They are often painful, but may be only moderately irritating. Treatment most always includes antibiotic medication, but may require surgical intervention depending on the cause.

Skin infections are typically treated with a topical antibiotic.
Skin infections are typically treated with a topical antibiotic.

An external abscess marked by swelling with pus can typically be easily treated by a physician or dermatologist. Some conditions, such as severe rosacea or acne, may require ongoing treatment by a dermatologist. Other conditions that cause swelling and pus are considered acute and may be treated as a single incident. Swelling with pus is often a secondary sign of an injury to the skin, such as a wound or burn. Proper hygiene and cleansing of wounds or burns can prevent help prevent infection, but in some cases medical attention is warranted.

Sites of pus and swelling may require examination by a dermatologist.
Sites of pus and swelling may require examination by a dermatologist.

Some people may notice rectal inflammation and swelling with pus, mucus or blood in the stool. This can be a sign of Crohn’s disease or another colorectal disease and should receive swift medical attention. Inflammation and swelling with pus in the genital regions may indicate an infection or disease that also requires swift medical intervention. People exhibiting these symptoms should refrain from sexual intercourse and see a doctor immediately.

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

Unlike internal causes of swelling and pus, skin infections marked by the same symptoms may be treated with a topical antibiotic rather than an oral antibiotic. Following a doctor’s advice and taking medications exactly as prescribed is the quickest way to safely and effectively eliminate infection. Open wounds should be kept clean and covered to avoid further complications. Caregivers should be cautious of infection and wash hands before and after dressing wounds or burns. During treatment, if fever, increased redness or red streaks, or other symptoms develop, seek professional medical help immediately.

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Discussion Comments

ddljohn

@burcidi-- Is the swelling like a pimple or more like a boil?

It could be MRSA. MRSA is a skin bacterial infection that causes boils that are filled with pus. MRSA is nothing to mess with though. It can be very serious. I would see a doctor if I were you.

candyquilt

@burcidi-- It could be an infected spider bite. I was bit by a spider last month and that's exactly what my bite looked like. And it leaked pus because it was infected.

You should see a doctor because you might need to take antibiotics. I was already applying antibiotic ointment on the bite but my infection was bad and my doctor gave me oral antibiotics as well.

Keep the area clean by washing with soap and water until you see the doctor.

burcidi

I've had a red, swollen spot on my shoulder for the past few days. I've not been able to figure out what caused it, but it's now infected. It leaked green pus this morning. What could this be?

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    • Skin infections are typically treated with a topical antibiotic.
      By: Coprid
      Skin infections are typically treated with a topical antibiotic.
    • Sites of pus and swelling may require examination by a dermatologist.
      By: michaeljung
      Sites of pus and swelling may require examination by a dermatologist.
    • Pus often results from an infection.
      By: thegarden
      Pus often results from an infection.
    • Severe acne may cause swelling with pus.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      Severe acne may cause swelling with pus.
    • Covering a wound is an important step in preventing infection.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      Covering a wound is an important step in preventing infection.
    • Taking a hot bath may help fight a skin abscess, a potential cause of swelling with pus.
      By: George Dolgikh
      Taking a hot bath may help fight a skin abscess, a potential cause of swelling with pus.
    • Swelling and pus may be signs of an infection in a recent surgical incision.
      By: Sherry Yates
      Swelling and pus may be signs of an infection in a recent surgical incision.
    • Swelling with pus may be caused by an abscess, which often present in the throat.
      By: stokkete
      Swelling with pus may be caused by an abscess, which often present in the throat.