What Is Wound Infection?

Wound infections occur when microorganisms (bacteria) enter the skin through a break in the skin. Wounds differ in appearance and they can be punctures, lacerations, incisions, or burns.

What Are the Symptoms of a Wound Infection?

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for wound infections includes the symptoms listed below:

  • Pus draining from wound
  • Increased size of wound scab
  • Yellow crust on wound
  • Pimple formation on wound
  • Increased redness around wound
  • Red streak from wound towards heart
  • Increased wound tenderness
  • Increased wound pain
  • Increased wound swelling
  • Blistered wound
  • Black dead tissue around wound
  • Enlarged lymph node
  • Fever
  • Wound takes longer than ten days to heal
  • You may also experience reduced blood pressure and an increased heart beat
  • Red, painful, warm swollen areas

Wound Infection Causes

A wound is more likely to become infected if it:

  • Results from a puncture, such as from a nail or piece of glass.
  • Results from a human or animal bite.
  • Isn’t cleaned or treated soon after occurring.
  • Occurs in your hand, foot, leg, armpit, or groin.
  • Contains dirt or saliva.
  • Heals very slowly.
  • Occurs in a person with diabetes, alcoholism, or a compromised immune system

Follow these steps to help keep wounds from developing infection:

  • Wash the wound right away with soap and water.
  • Apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment. You can buy this at the drugstore without a prescription.
  • Cover wounds with a bandage or gauze dressing.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry for the first 24 hours.
  • Change the dressing daily using sterile gloves.

Treating Wound Infection

Treatment is likely to depend on the type and extent of your infection. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral antibiotics to help fight bacteria. He or she may also flush the wound with an antibiotic solution or apply an antibiotic ointment. Sometimes an abscess (a pocket of pus) may form. In that case, the abscess will be opened and the fluid drained. You may need hospital care if the infection is very severe.

Call your healthcare provider at the first sign of infection, such as:

  • Yellow, yellow-green, or foul-smelling drainage from a wound
  • Increased pain, swelling, or redness in or near a wound
  • A change in the color or size of a wound
  • Red streaks in the skin around the wound
  • Fever