What is Wound Infection?
When your child has a break in the skin or a sutured wound, it shows signs of infection. Wound infections need to be started on antibiotics. Most contaminated wounds that are going to become infected do so 24 to 72 hours after the initial injury.
What are some signs and symptoms of Wound Infection?
Symptoms of Wound Infections
- Pus or cloudy fluid is draining from the wound.
- A pimple or yellow crust has formed on the wound.
- The scab has increased in size.
- Increasing redness occurs around the wound.
- A red streak is spreading from the wound toward the heart.
- The wound has become very tender.
- Pain or swelling is increasing 48 hours after the wound occurred.
- The lymph node draining that area of skin may become large and tender.
- A fever occurs.
- The wound hasn’t healed within 10 days after the injury.
What should I do?
For any wound, you should take the following steps:
- Take care of the wound immediately, because even a minor wound can get infected if bacteria are allowed to build up in the wound site. If the wound is minor, you should apply first aid at home.
- If you get a puncture wound or step on a rusty nail, you should see a doctor immediately as you may need a tetanus shot.
- Clean the wound with water. You should avoid using soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine, which can irritate the injury. If you can’t get the wound clean, see a doctor, because the dirt could trigger an infection.
- When the wound is clean, apply antibiotic ointment one to three times a day to prevent infection, and cover it in a sterile bandage. Before reapplying ointment, clean the wound. Stop using the ointment if you develop a rash or other reaction. Change the bandage daily, and use soap to clean the skin around the wound.
- If the injury doesn’t stop bleeding on its own, use a clean cloth to apply pressure. Maintain the pressure for 20 minutes while elevating the wounded area, if possible. If bleeding continues after 20 minutes of pressure or spurts out of the wound, seek medical help.
- Watch the wound to make sure it is healing. If the wound does not begin to heal or grows red, warm, and/or inflamed, or the skin around it shows red streaks, seek medical care immediately.
Treatment of Mild Normal Redness-Use warm saltwater soaks or compresses (2 teaspoons of table salt per quart of water) to the wound for 15 minutes, 3 times a day. Dry the area thoroughly afterward. Never soak a sutured wound as it increases the risk of infection.
When should I seek medical care?
Call your doctor immediately if:
- Fever occurs;
- Red streak runs from the wound;
- Spreading redness around the wound;
- Severe pain in the wound;
- Any face wound with signs of infection;
- Your child looks or acts very sick;
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent.
Call your doctor within 24 hours if
- Pus or cloudy discharge from the wound;
- Wound gets more painful or tender after 2 days 48 hours;
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent.
Call your doctor during office hours if:
- Pimple where a stitch comes through the skin;
- You have other questions or concerns.
How I should avoid?
To prevent wound infection, you should do the following:
- Restore breathing and blood circulation as soon as possible after injury.
- Warm the victim and at the earliest opportunity provide high-energy nutrition and pain relief.
- Do not use tourniquets.
- Perform wound toilet and debridement as soon as possible (within 8 hours if possible).
- Respect universal precautions to avoid transmission of infection.
- Give antibiotic prophylaxis to victims with deep wounds.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.
Review Date: August 23, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019
Reducing Wound Pain. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/wound-care-10/relieving-wound-pain. Accessed August 20, 2016.
Prevention and management of wound infection. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/tools/guidelines_prevention_and_management_wound_infection.pdf. Accessed August 20, 2016.