What Are the Common Causes of Pus on the Head?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2019
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Pus on the head is caused by a bacterial infection. In addition to pus, an infection can cause inflammation, pain, and redness. An infection that produces pus is also referred to as a purulent infection and can also cause body aches, chills, fever, vomiting, and general malaise. Treatment depends upon the cause of the infection, but usually includes oral or topical antibiotics, or a combination of both.

An ingrown hair, boil, or staph infection can cause pus on the head, and scalp oils and hair products can sometimes worsen the infection. Until the problem resolves, patients should wash the hair with gentle shampoo and avoid using hairsprays or other styling products. Pus can be wiped away gently, but it should not be forced out or drained, because doing so may cause the infection to spread. The individual should also avoid vigorously brushing or combing the hair around an infection to prevent irritating the area and possibly causing permanent damage to the tissue.


The consistency of pus can vary from thin to very thick and sticky, and the color can range from light to dark. Pus can also appear green or brown, or it may look red or pink when it mixes with blood. Neither the color nor the consistency of pus should be used as an indicator of the severity or type of infection. Pus can also have a disagreeable odor to it, but a healthcare provider can recommend an antibacterial wash to alleviate the smell.

If pus on the head is caused by an abscess, a medical professional may elect to drain or lance the abscess. Depending upon the size and location of the abscess, the hair may be trimmed or shaved, but in most cases, it will grow back. If the abscess is deep or extensive, however, damage to the hair follicles may occur, causing the hair to stop growing permanently.

When pus escapes from the abscess, close contact with others should be avoided until a medical professional has treated or contained the infection. Since the scalp is very vascular, it may bleed a great deal after an abscess have been lanced or drained. The bleeding will subside gradually, but if it becomes persistent, further treatment may be necessary to close the wound, such as the application of a special dressing or stitches. After the infection has been treated, it generally heals completely and uneventfully.


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Post 1

My name is Roy and I have tried going to the hospital several times but it doesn't work. They gave me Selsun 2.5 percent, but it is still there. Please help.

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