Continue reading to learn how to determine if your wound is infected and what you can do to prevent significant scarring from injuries.
Five signs that your wound is infectedA wound infection is a bacterial infection. As our understanding of bacterial infections grows, we are coming up with better and better ways to treat them. But how do you know when to treat your wound for an infection? Below are five signs to look for when you think your wound is infected.
Is it red and swollen?
During the wound healing process, some redness and swelling is normal—this is called inflammation. Inflammation helps to fight off bacteria and prevent infection. However, this stage of wound healing should only last for about 24 to 48 hours. If you notice that the inflammation lasts longer, it’s likely your body is fighting an infection at the wound site. If the infection does not go away on its own, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor.
Is it painful?
Wounds are always accompanied by at least some pain. Trauma to the skin signals your brain that something is wrong, and the pain associated with it helps your body recognize and heal the wound. After the initial onset of the wound, your body will gradually begin healing over time and the pain should lessen. However, if you find that the pain is becoming greater over time, then an infection might be the culprit.
Is it hot to the touch?
Heat is a normal sensation experience during the inflammatory phase of wound healing. Much like pain, redness, a swelling, heat is also a sign that your body is working to heal itself. But if sensations of heat persist beyond 24 to 48 hours, this may mean your body is sending infection-fighting cells to the wound bed.
Do you feel sick?
The skin acts as a barrier that protects our inner organs from environmental pathogens. When this barrier is damaged, it leaves us vulnerable to infection that can spread from the wound site to other parts of our bodies. This can cause common cold-like symptoms including a fever, a lack of energy, and sleepiness. It’s important to contact a doctor if these symptoms worsen because it likely means you have an infection.
What’s coming out of your wound?
One common way to tell if your wound is infected is simply by inspecting it for fluid drainage. All wounds drain fluids—blood and a clear ooze called “exudate.” But if your wound is excreting a thick discolored (yellow or brown) substance called “pus,” your wound has become infected. This pus, which consists of dead white blood cells that lost the battle against the infection, can sometimes emit a foul smell.
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