We get cuts and scrapes every day. You’re chopping vegetables for dinner and you cut your finger when the knife slips. Your daughter comes home from riding bikes with her friends and she’s scraped up her knee. Your son gets a little overzealous in playing with the cat and gets a long cut on his arm. While some Neosporin and a bandage may seem like the end of the injury’s drama, microorganisms like bacteria can infiltrate the wound and multiply, delaying the healing process and causing wound infection. Watch out for these common indicators of an infected wound when you get a cut or scrape.
- Fever: When your temperature rises above the standard 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit several days after you’ve had an open wound, it may be an indication of infection. If you’re experiencing headaches and a decreased appetite, check your temperature to see if you’re running a fever. When you have a fever in conjunction with some of the other symptoms of wound infection, go to an urgent care clinic as soon as possible for infection care.
- Feeling Ill: Your body will try to mount a strong counter-attack as an infection spreads. You’ll feel this defense in the form of a fever, as well as a general feeling of tiredness, soreness, and nausea. You may be sleeping more than usual or not feel up to doing your usual activities as your body attempts its own form of wound treatment.
- Persistent Redness: While the area around your wound will be initially red as it goes through the healing process, a continued redness often indicates that nasty bacteria have entered the wound site. Persistent swelling around the wound or the appearance of radiating streaks, known as lymphangitis, are also common signs of a wound infection.
- Fluid Drainage: A sure sign that your injury has become infected is if there is pus that is green, cloudy, and/or foul-smelling. If you see that coming out of your cut, see a doctor immediately. Typically after a cut or scrape, there will be a yellow-ish substance. This is called granulation tissue and is part of the natural healing process.
- Continual Pain: After a scrape or cut, the pain should disappear gradually. If you experience increased or continual pain in the wound site for an abnormal amount of time after receiving the injury, it may be infected.
When you experience one or more of these symptoms, go to an urgent care as soon as possible before it gets worse. The wait time to see a physician at about 60% of urgent care clinics is 15 minutes or less. Take this small amount of time out of your day to ensure that you are taking care of yourself.