What is Purulent Drainage? Understanding the Wound Secretion

Wounds are a commonplace health problem that everyone experiences in their lifetime. Wound healing is a complex process that involves various stages, including inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. During the inflammation stage, a wound may secrete purulent drainage.

What is Purulent Drainage?

Purulent drainage is a type of exudate that comes from a wound. It is a thick, yellowish or greenish fluid composed of a mixture of dead cells, bacteria, and white blood cells. It is often associated with wounds that are infected or poorly healing.

What Causes Purulent Drainage?

Purulent drainage is caused by a wound infection. Bacteria enter the wound, and the body sends white blood cells to the area to fight the infection. The dead white blood cells, bacteria, and dead tissue debris make up the pus that is secreted from the wound.

What are the Signs of Purulent Drainage?

The signs of purulent drainage are easy to identify. The appearance of thick, yellow, or greenish fluid from a wound is a clear indication of purulent drainage. It may have a foul odor and may be accompanied by pain, redness, and swelling.

Types of Purulent Drainage

Purulent drainage can be of different types, depending on the underlying condition of the wound. The different types are:

  • Serous: It is a clear, pale yellow fluid that is common in wounds in the early stages of healing.
  • Sanguineous: It is a bloody fluid that is commonly seen in fresh wounds or during the early stages of healing.
  • Seropurulent: It is a mixture of serous and purulent drainage and is commonly seen in wounds with a slow healing process.
  • Fibrinous: It is a yellowish fluid that contains a clot-like consistency similar to egg whites. It is commonly seen in wounds with a low-grade infection.

Purulent Drainage Treatment

The treatment of purulent drainage depends on the underlying cause of the wound. A healthcare professional will clean the wound and remove the drainage. Antibiotic therapy may be required to treat the infection, and the wound may need to be closed with sutures or left open to heal by secondary intention.

Complications of Purulent Drainage

If left untreated, purulent drainage can cause complications such as abscesses, cellulitis, and sepsis. The bacteria that cause the infection can enter the bloodstream, causing a systemic infection that is life-threatening.

Prevention of Purulent Drainage

Preventing wound infections is the best way to prevent purulent drainage. Some effective ways to prevent wound infections are:

  • Clean the wound: Clean the wound with soap and water, and bandage it to protect it from dirt and bacteria.
  • Watch for signs of infection: Watch for signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, and drainage.
  • Get vaccinated: Get vaccinated against tetanus, especially if the wound is caused by a dirty or rusty object.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can improve the immune system, making it easier to fight infections.


Purulent drainage is a type of exudate that comes from a wound, and it is caused by a wound infection. It can be prevented by cleaning the wound, watching for signs of infection, and getting vaccinated. If left untreated, it can cause severe complications.

FAQs about Purulent Drainage

  • What Does Purulent Drainage Smell Like? Purulent drainage has a foul odor that is similar to rotting flesh.
  • What is the Color of Purulent Drainage? Purulent drainage is typically yellowish or greenish in color.
  • What Kind of Infections Cause Purulent Drainage? Purulent drainage is commonly seen in infected wounds caused by bacteria or fungi.


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  • Kupeli, N., Karcioglu, O., Özkan, S. (2012). Management of wound healing and infection in dermatologic surgery. Clinics in Dermatology, 30(1), 38-43.
  • Rollins, R., Martinez, J., &Creece, C. (2005). A review of wound healing and wound healing products. Journal of current surgery, 62(6), 751-754.

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