The body is an incredible machine that can fight invasions, mend bones, and regenerate new skin. Our bodies are so efficient at healing that our wound healing process actually begins within minutes of getting hurt. However, the body’s healing process is occasionally interrupted when germs and bacteria make contact with the damaged skin, causing the area to become infected. This infection not only inhibits the closing of the initial wound but can cause a sickness of its own that can spread to other parts of the body. Thus, it is incredibly important to know the signs and symptoms of an infection and how to treat a wound properly and in a timely manner.
Is My Wound Infected?
Do you have a cut, scrape, or burn that looks odd or simply isn’t healing as quickly as you think it should be? Read on to learn how to tell if a wound is infected and how to look out for signature signs of infection.
Warm to the Touch
In the early stages of a healing wound, the injured skin is sealed, and the immune system activates. Within the first 2 to 5 days of the healing process, white blood cells rush to fight any germs or bacteria that may have entered the wound site. During this time, the wounded area may feel hot to the touch as your body fights any foreign entities – however, should the wound be warm to the touch longer than that time period, this can be an indication that your immune system is still targeting the area, meaning that your body is struggling to keep the bacteria at bay.
Redness & Swellings
Shortly after a wound occurs, the site of injury may be slightly swollen and tender in addition to pink or reddish-toned. This is quite normal, as blood is being sent to the injured skin to provide oxygen and other necessary nutrients to assist the healing process. However, this usually only takes place within the first few days of the injury. If redness and swelling last longer than five days, it could be a sign that the wound is healing improperly. In this case, it is likely that bacteria is still in the wound, and is the reason that it has remained red and swollen.
Discoloration & Discharge
When healing, it is normal for wounds to discharge small amounts of pus. However, if the drainage continues and the wound begins to smell foul or have discoloration, the wound is most likely infected and will need to be treated by an UrgentMED specialist at a walk-in clinic.
Experiencing tenderness while dealing with a healing wound is normal. Pain will be more prevalent with deeper, more severe wounds that affect beneath the skin’s surface but will typically resolve itself with two days. However, if you feel sharp or long-lasting pain when making contact with the site of injury, that can be another telltale sign of infection. If the pain does not decrease with pain medication or actually becomes worse as the days go by, seek a doctor as soon as possible.
Fever is one of the most severe complications that can arise from an infected would. If a wound is infected and not treated in a timely manner, the infection is likely to travel into deeper skin issue. Once hitting the bloodstream, the infection can spread throughout the body resulting in fever and general malaise.
How to Take Care of Your Infected Wound
No matter how small a wound may seem, once becoming infected it can have severe consequences, leading to cellulitis, sepsis, or even necrotizing fasciitis, “the flesh-eating disease.” Don’t put off treating an infected wound – with 19 convenient walk-in urgent care clinics throughout Southern California, we offer fast professional service without a long wait and no appointment necessary. We offer weekday, weeknight and weekend hours to serve you on your terms, for your convenience. In addition, we offer affordable rates for uninsured individuals and accept a wide range of national insurance policies. Our clinics are open seven days a week to provide fast and affordable service to all Southern California residents – find a clinic near you!