MadSci Network: Immunology

Re: What exactly is puss?

Date: Thu May 18 11:30:59 2000
Posted By: Richard Deem, Staff, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Area of science: Immunology
ID: 957831307.Im

Puss is the body's reaction to infection. Most infections are caused by bacteria, the most common of which is called Staphylococcus epidermis, but most people just call it Staph. These Staph bacteria live all over our bodes, but usually do not cause any problems. However, when our skin breaks or is punctured, the bacteria get inside our body. Our immune system responds to eliminate the invader. Local immune compartment cells (white blood cells known as monocytes or macrophages) respond first, and attempt to engulf the invaders. If the number of bacteria is great, it is likely that they will grow faster than the local cells can eliminate them.

The local cells send out chemical "messages" that tell the rest of the immune system that they need help. More white blood cells are called into the local area by these messages. The white or off-white color is the result of millions of these white blood cells. The odor is due to the growth of bacteria, the chemicals being released by the immune system, and the death of cells. Draining the wound helps get rid of large numbers of bacteria (which grow very rapidly), which helps to eliminate them from the wound.

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Re: How do you get skin infections?

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