How to Analyze Wound Drainage

Wound drainage is not always a bad thing. Depending on the color and consistency of the exudate, the wound may be demonstrating routine healing or may be indicative or infection. 

There are four main types of drainage:

SanguineousBright redSomewhat thick, syrup-likeOccurs during blood vessel developmentNo
SerousClear or slightly yellowThin, but slightly thicker than waterContains sugars, white blood cells, and proteins for tissue healingNo
SeropurulentCloudy, yellow, tanVaries from thin to somewhat thickBeginning sign of infection / bacteria colonizationYes
PurulentCloudy, milky, yellow, tan, grey, green, brownThick and milkyPus, foul smell, and painful – indicative of possible infectionYes

Note: Not all wounds follow these guidelines specifically. Any change in drainage color, odor, or sensitivity should be reported and discussed with your physician to determine possible signs of infection.