It is best to assume that wounds that were not properly treated are more likely to become infected. The characteristic indications of infection include pain, swelling, fever and drainage of pus. If these signs are not present, the wound is not infected. For infected wounds, it must be treated by health care professionals. If this is not possible right away, there are first aid measures that you have to perform. Always remember that proper sanitation is vital when taking care of any wound and an essential part of infected wound care. Your hands must be clean before taking care of a wound and only utilize sterile bandages if possible.
Steps when treating an infected wound
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before taking care of an infected wound. Make sure that you will clean the area beneath your fingernails and use an antiseptic soap if available. Once you have properly sanitized your hands, wear clean gloves if available.
- The area of the skin around the wound must be sanitized with an antibacterial solution or alcohol. Do not forget to clean the area of the skin close to the wound site to prevent accidental contamination of the wound due to bacteria present on the skin.
- If there is pus or foreign material present in the wound, wash them out carefully and do not scrub the wound. Scrubbing will open up the blood vessels, thus allowing the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. For a simpler approach, you have to pour water over the wound to wash out the debris. In case dead tissue is present and visible within the wound, they must be removed if possible.
- With sterile gauze, apply an antibiotic ointment antiseptic solution and cover it on the wound. You have to hold the gauze on the wound and regular change the bandages to maintain cleanliness. The bandages must be changed regularly and this is the best time to check the condition of the wound.
- Once you have provided the first aid measures for the infected wound, you have to seek medical attention immediately. Take note that infections can become severe very quickly. Even a small-sized wound must be treated carefully if there are signs of infection present.
Important consideration when treating an infected wound
A tetanus shot might be required for individuals who have not received a tetanus shot in the past few years. When applying the bandages, make sure that it is not too might and check it on a regular basis as well as keeping it dry all the time.
Do not hesitate to seek medical care immediately for infected wounds, large-sized wounds and for wounds that do not heal. In case there is increased swelling or redness spreading out from the wound and even fever, it is considered as a medical emergency thus you have to seek medical attention right away.
When cleaning deep infected wounds, hydrogen peroxide should not be used. It will only destroy the underlying tissues and eventually delay the proper healing process. Additionally, do not close an infected wound. The infection within an enclosed wound can result to life-threatening infections.