Pus and Infection from a Wound or Incision

Infected Incision: How To Care For An Infected Wound With Pus

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Pus coming from an incision is a sign of infection, which is both good and bad news. It is good because pus means your body has started to fight the infection, but it is also bad news because your surgical incision is clearly infected.

In patients who have a compromised immune system, pus may never form in an infected incision, but most patients will find that an infection leads to discharge from the area.

What to do For an Infected Incision or Wound

Calling your surgeon/physician should be a priority. Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotics, ointments or a special incision care program. Antibiotics are important because they will help your body heal faster and may prevent the infection from becoming worse. In addition, your surgeon may want to see your incision in order to make sure there isn’t a deeper underlying problem.

You also need to resist the urge to scrub your incision, slather it with antibiotic ointment or clean it with alcohol or peroxide. Until your surgeon gives you new instructions, keep your incision clean by using soap and water like you normally would during a shower. Keep it dry, and protect it with a clean bandage.  You can leave it uncovered, but drainage may be leaking from the site.  In general,  do what was recommended in your instructions for incision care after surgery.

Wound Culture

Your wound drainage may be collected.  This process is called a culture, and the sample is sent to the lab to see what type of bacteria is causing the infection.  That information is used to determine what antibiotic the bacteria is sensitive to, in other words, the test will determine which antibiotic will kill the bacteria most efficiently.

More Information: Answers To Common Questions After Surgery


Incision Care. Notre Dame Health Services. 2004

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