What are the common causes of red pus?

Red pus is the result of pus combining with blood. It is often referred to as blood-tinged pus and the color can range from light pink to deep red. The pus may also appear green when neutrophils secrete a substance known as myeloperoxidase. Pus can also be brown, yellow, white, or, rarely, blue. A bacterial infection known as pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause blue pus and is the result of an immune response.

It is common for an infected wound to contain red pus. Tooth abscesses sometimes produce blood-tinged pus and can be treated with antibiotics or sometimes tooth extraction. Even minor injuries like ingrown toenails can produce red pus because chronic friction from a shoe can cause the tissue to bleed and mix with pus. Regardless of whether the wound contains red pus or pus of another color, a health care provider should be notified to determine the cause of the infection and prescribe antibiotics.

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that attack bacterial organisms. When neutrophils work with other types of white blood cells and their components, an immune response is triggered, often resulting in the formation of pus. Pimples, abscesses, and boils occasionally contain pus, and they are often painful, swollen, and red. An individual should never try to squeeze the pus out of a pimple or boil it because doing so can cause scarring and the spread of the infection to other parts of the body.

When red pus accompanies a wound, antibiotics should be started, either orally, topically, or both. Most of the time, a healthy immune system will clear a purulent infection without any treatment. Sometimes, however, an untreated bacterial infection can cause serious complications such as kidney or heart failure. Occasionally, the health care provider will spear the infected area to remove the pus, and because this is usually done under sterile conditions, the risk of further infection is low.

Pus formation can also affect internal organs, in the form of abscesses that can sometimes form in the liver. When this occurs, the patient can become seriously ill and experience weight loss, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark-colored urine, and fever. When pus forms within the internal organs, hospitalization is recommended so that intravenous antibiotic therapy can be started. If antibiotic therapy is not instituted immediately, the patient may become septic, which can cause massive blood infection and be life-threatening.

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