Exit site infection
The presence of purulent drainage, with or without erythema on the skin around the catheter exit site, indicates the existence of an exit site infection.
Redness around the catheter may be an early heralding sign of infection or simply local irritation.
The latter is more likely if it occurs shortly after catheter placement, trauma, or traction about the catheter exit site.
A positive culture in the absence of abnormal exit site appearance is suggestive of colonization, not infection.