How Do I Recognize an Infected Wound?

A low-grade fever and chills could indicate that a wound has become infected.
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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An infected wound can be identified from a number of symptoms. Redness, swelling, and heat at the site of the wound, as well as a throbbing pain, swollen lymph nodes, pus, and even a fever are all symptoms of an infected wound. If any of these symptoms are seen, medical help should be sought as soon as possible.

A skin lesion that does not heal over time but instead becomes increasingly painful is a sign that it may be an infected wound. The pain may increase quickly, becoming intense and is often described as a throbbing pain. It is possible for this pain to be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications, but one should visit the doctor as soon as possible because medical intervention is required to eliminate the infection.

If a wound is inflamed, red, or hot to the touch, this may indicate that the wound is infected. A mild amount of inflammation is common with all wounds, even those that are not infected, and this is part of the healing process. If the redness and swelling spread and become more severe over time, it is likely that the wound is infected.

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Often, an infected wound will contain pus. It may retain this pus under the skin, or the wound may ooze. This pus can be white, yellow, or green. Discharge that has a foul odor is especially a symptom of infection. The bacteria in pus and other wound discharge contains large amounts of bacteria that can infect other individuals with open wounds. People with infected wounds should be careful to wash the area around the wound as well as their hands so that the bacteria is not transmitted to others.

Another sign of an infected wound is red streaking. This indicates that an infection has spread to the lymph system, the system that removes infections from the body's tissues. Other signs of a lymph infection are swollen and inflamed areas around the armpits, the neck, or around the groin, as these places are where lymph nodes are located.

It is not uncommon for an infected wound to cause symptoms that are not related to the wound at all. An infection anywhere on the skin can cause the affected individual to experience chills and a fever. This is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infection.

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Discuss this Article

mobilian33
Post 3

One of the most painful infections I have ever had was an abscess. I leaned that the puss associated with the condition was actually a device the body uses as a way of protecting itself, and containing and fighting the infection. The abscess resulted from a damaged tooth and the pain was like nothing I had ever felt.

My doctor prescribed antibiotics, which cleared up the infection. Good hygiene is very important when you are trying to prevent or get rid of an abscess. This can be more difficult when the infection is in the mouth because the human mouth is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Laotionne
Post 2

Do you know that every time you get a cut or wound that opens the skin your immune system kicks in and your white blood cells go into battle mode to fight bacteria and other germs? Without a healthy immune system, virtually every one of these types of wounds would eventually become an infected wound.

That is the main reason viruses that compromise the immune system are so dangerous. The virus may not kill you, but exposure to some other germ or injury is more likely to create a life threating situation than if your immune system were working properly.

Drentel
Post 1

With all the concern regarding MRSA infected wounds and other types of infections, I have become more aware of little cuts and wounds that I receive throughout the work day or that I get working around the house when I am repairing things and gardening.

Most wounds, even the smallest cuts are going to be a little red and as this article says, a certain amount of swelling is common with many injuries. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether you should be really concerned or not.

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