What is purulent drainage?

22 December 2017
Comments: 0
22 December 2017, Comments: 0

Purulent drainage is a form of fluid released by a wound. It is often described as a “milk-like” appearance and typically an indication of an infection.

When healing from a wound, closely monitor the drainage. It is vital to determine the type of fluid that oozes normally from a wound and which one requires further assessment.

What are the signs?

Purulent drainage is a form of liquid draining from a cut or wound. The usual signs include:

  • “Milk-like” appearance
  • Thick or dense consistency
  • Distinct smell or odor
  • Greenish, yellowish, whitish or brownish color

It is expected to see a pale, watery fluid leaking from most wounds. The drainage might be purulent if the quantity of liquid rises or consistency changes.

What is the cause?


Once purulent drainage is observed, it is likely that the wound is infected.

Once purulent drainage is observed, it is likely that the wound is infected. Remember that it is easier for microorganisms to enter the skin if it is damaged. The bacteria can spread into the underlying tissues and trigger an infection.

Take note that open wounds are likely to develop infections than the closed wounds since the damage in the skin allows an entry point for the germs.


The initial objective when managing purulent drainage is to manage with the causal root of the infection. Other goals include ensuring that the drainage is contained and preventing the softening of the wound while keeping a moist environment. Take note that this allows the wound to heal on its own.

The treatment is based on the needs of the individual, wound type, location and stage of healing of the wound.

When to consult a doctor

A doctor should be seen right away if there is any change in the odor or color of the drainage from the wound.

It is important to note that purulent drainage is green, yellow, brown or white with a strong odor. The earlier an infection is detected, the easier it can be managed.

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