A wound infection occurs when germs, such as bacteria, grow within the damaged skin of a wound. Symptoms can include increasing pain, swelling, and redness. More severe infections may cause nausea, chills, or fever. A person may be able to treat minor wound infections at home. APPOTEK you can help you with infected wounds.
Most infected wounds are caused by bacterial colonization, originating either from the normal flora on the skin, or bacteria from other parts of the body or the outside environment. The most common infection-causing bacteria is Staphylococcus aureus and other types of staphylococci.
Wounds can also become infected by bites from, for example, dogs or cats.
Many difficult-to-heal wounds can cause symptoms such as redness, pain and heat. The wound can also produce fluid, without being infected. Then it is rather an irritation in the wound area.
If you’ve got a bacterial infection in the wound, you will notice that it:
- is not healing
- feels warm
- smells bad
- is painful
- oozes fluid
Prevention and protection
The following precautions can help minimize the risk of developing infected wounds in at-risk patients and to minimize complications in patients already exhibiting symptoms:
- Prompt and proper wound cleansing to reduce bioburden
- Maintaining proper nutrition and hydration
It is important to keep wounds clean so that they can heal properly. Always clean the area immediately after injury. Use alcohol wipes if clean water is unavailable.
Once you’ve cleaned the area, wait for it to dry, and then apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream to help keep germs away. Cover the area with a clean dressing to further protect the cut. Be sure to choose a suitable dressing that won’t stick to the cut.
Make sure you are vaccinated against tetanus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can be serious.
The overall treatment depends on the type, cause, and depth of the wound, and whether other structures beyond the skin are involved.
Treatment of recent lacerations involves examining, cleaning, and closing the wound. Minor wounds, like bruises, will heal on their own, with skin discoloration usually disappearing in 1–2 weeks. Abrasions, which are wounds with intact skin (non-penetration through dermis to subcutaneous fat), usually require no active treatment except keeping the area clean, initially with soap and water.
Puncture wounds may be prone to infection depending on the depth of penetration. The entry of the puncture wound is left open to allow for bacteria or debris to be removed from inside.
Approaches to treatment can be broken down by whether the infection is systemic or localized just to the wound area.
Systemic treatment often will call for oral antibiotics, the specific type determined by microbiological investigation and local infection control protocols.
Localized infections can often be treated with topical antibiotics. Drainage may be necessary to remove slough and devitalized tissue, as these slow wound healing and can affect the efficiency of topical antibiotics. Antimicrobial dressings, including those that use silver technology, may be used to help reduce bioburden.
Antibiotics, whether topical or systemic, should only be used with a doctor’s prescription.
When to consult a doctor
Seek care if you have non-healing wounds, or:
- if the infection does not get better after treatment or if it gets worse
- if you get a fever
- if you experience increased pain.
How APPOTEK can help
Appotek can help you with infected wounds. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, then may prescribe treatment or refer you for further examination. Be aware that with infected wounds, a physical examination is often required.