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Wound Infection


A wound infection

occurs when bacteria enter a break in the skin.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Fever
  • Warm, red, painful, swollen wound
  • Blood or pus coming from the wound
  • Foul odor coming from the wound
  • Dizziness or a fast heartbeat

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandages.
  • You have severe pain.
  • The skin around your wound is numb.
  • You cannot move one of your limbs below the wound area.
  • You develop blisters, or your skin starts to peel or change color.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • The inside of your wound is dark or bright red.
  • You have more pain, redness, or swelling in your wound.
  • Your swelling does not go away after 5 days.
  • You have new drainage or a bad odor coming from the wound.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for a wound infection

will depend on how severe the wound is, its location, and whether other areas are affected. It may also depend on your health and the length of time you have had the wound. Ask your healthcare provider about these and other treatments you may need:

  • Wound cleaning may be done with soap and water to wash away germs and decrease the risk for infection. Your healthcare provider may cut open a part of the affected area to clean it better. The wound may be rinsed with sterile water. Germ-killing solutions may also be used. Objects, dirt, or dead tissue from the wound will be removed with debridement (surgical cleaning). Wet bandages may be placed inside the wound and left to dry. Other wet or dry dressings may also be used. Your healthcare provider may also drain the wound to clean out pus.
  • Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

Wound care:

Keep your wound clean and dry. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.