How To Tell If A Cut Is Getting Infected

How To Tell If A Cut Is Getting Infected – Medically reviewed by Cinthia Tailor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C — Becki Young — Updated January 22, 2023

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How To Tell If A Cut Is Getting Infected

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A cut is an area of ​​damaged skin, usually the result of some form of trauma. A cut can appear anywhere on the body.

When germs enter the delicate tissues beneath our skin through a cut, the cut can become infected. Infection can develop anywhere from two to three days after the cut until it visibly heals.

Read on to learn how to spot an infected cut and what you can do to treat and prevent the condition.

An infected cut will gradually progress until it heals completely, and an infected cut will become more painful over time.

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The skin around the cut is often red and may feel warm. You will notice some swelling in the affected area. As the infection progresses, a yellowish substance called pus begins to ooze.

If you start to notice that your cut is getting a little red around the edges, you can treat it at home.

Be sure to wash the wound with soap and water, and remove all visible debris. Disinfectant solutions such as hydrogen peroxide can be used on the first day, but not more than once. After cleaning the wound, dry it, cover it with an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, and cover it with a bandage until new skin grows over the wound.

Do not try to treat signs of infection in a large cut at home. Instead, see your doctor immediately for treatment.

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If your infected cut doesn’t clear up at home, you may need antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Some commonly prescribed antibiotics include:

The doctor will clean your incision and apply an appropriate bandage. They may use a local numbing agent before cleaning to reduce pain.

If an infected cut is not treated in time, the infection will begin to spread to deeper tissues beneath the skin. This is called cellulitis. The infection can travel through your bloodstream to other parts of your body. As the infection spreads, you start to feel nauseous and feverish.

Cellulitis can develop into a serious infection called sepsis. It is also possible that an infected cut never heals properly. It can lead to skin infections such as impetigo and can develop into an abscess.

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In extremely rare cases, an untreated infected incision can develop into necrotizing fasciitis. This is more commonly known as “flesh eating disease”. It damages large areas of skin and becomes painful.

After cleaning the area, wait for it to dry, then apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream to prevent bacteria. Cover the area with a clean bandage to further protect the cut.

Make sure to choose an appropriate dress. Use one that won’t cut. If you are not sure what kind of dressing to use, you can ask your pharmacist.

Look closely at the cut to see if there is even the slightest sign of infection. The sooner the infection is caught, the quicker and easier it can be cured.

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There are strict procurement guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes and medical associations. We do not use third party referrals. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy. Almost everyone has experienced a cut or injury at some point in their life. It is an external or internal tissue, mainly skin breakdown injury. These injuries can be scratches, minor cuts, burns, pressure sores, lacerations etc.

Injuries such as a cut during surgery or trauma from any accident, fight, bite, fall or weapon can also be surgical. Generally, minor injuries are not life-threatening and can be easily treated at home with proper care. But a chronically infected wound requires medical treatment.

The skin breaks like a wound, the body’s first line of defense to save us from infection. However, in some cases, pathogenic organisms such as germs enter the tissue surrounding the wound, causing infection. It triggers the body’s immune response and causes tissue damage and inflammation, hindering the healing process.

If the infection is minor, such as an infected hair follicle, scratch, or small cut, it will usually heal on its own over time. In severe cases, the injury requires medical attention and should be treated immediately to prevent further damage to the body.

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An infected wound can worsen if not diagnosed in time. The sooner you seek medical attention, the better your chances of recovery and avoiding further complications.

Increased or severe pain: In most cases, the pain decreases as the wound heals, but if the pain is persistent or worsens, the wound is infected and requires medical attention. Due to severe pain, the patient may also experience body aches, weakness or restlessness.

Nausea: Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting or significant lack of energy are also signs of a wound infection. If discomfort or discomfort persists, it means that the condition is slowly affecting other body systems.

Fever – A body temperature of 100°F or higher for more than 4 hours can be a sign of infection and other health problems.

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Redness: If you notice redness around the wound or patterns spreading to other parts of the body, this is a clear sign of infection and it will get worse.

Swelling: This is part of the healing process of any wound, but if it does not go down over time and becomes painful, the wound may become infected.

Limited movement: In some cases, infection, extreme pain, swelling or stiffness in the affected area can interfere with your normal activities.

Excessive pus in the wound – An infected wound may discharge colorless, foul-smelling pus. Take it seriously and see your doctor immediately.

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Any negligence or delay in treating a wound infection can lead to serious complications. The infection can spread to other parts of the body.

Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers and tissues of the skin. It causes swelling, redness, pain in the affected area, fever, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.

Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection of the bones. Symptoms include redness, pain, and inflammation around the infected area. Fever and fatigue are other symptoms that affect people with osteomyelitis.

Sepsis is a severe immune reaction when an infection enters the bloodstream. It is life threatening and can lead to multiple organ failure. According to the CDC, nearly 270,000 people die from sepsis in the United States each year.

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Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare condition in which a bacterial infection spreads to the tissue called the fascial lining, which lies deep beneath the skin. Necrotizing fasciitis is a medical emergency that can cause chronic skin damage, pain, and spread throughout the body. (Leonard 2019)

Despite the size of the wound, it is necessary to take steps to treat it quickly. Medical professionals advise on proper wound care, which includes frequent cleaning and dressing changes. Homeopathy or home remedies may work for minor injuries. The most important thing is to properly clean the wound and use a sterile bandage. (Roddick 2018)

Cuts, cuts and puncture wounds may require stitches to close the skin and stop bleeding. If you have been in an accident and are actively bleeding or suspect you have broken a bone, go to the emergency room as soon as possible. You will need an X-ray to assess your injury. Emergency room doctors are ready to deal with injuries of any severity. We use cookies to make us great. By using our website, you accept our cookie policy. Cookie settings

This article was medically reviewed by Jonas DeMuro, MD. Dr. DeMuro is a board-certified pediatric surgeon in New York. He received his M.D. degree from Stony Brook University School of Medicine in 1996. He completed a critical care fellowship at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and is a past fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

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Oh! You have a cut and it looks really bad. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an open wound needs stitches to help it heal properly and reduce scarring. If you’re not sure whether it should be stitched or not, and you want to save yourself an unnecessary trip to the hospital, here are some helpful tips and tricks you can use to find out if your open wound really needs attention.

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This article was peer reviewed by Jonas DeMuro.

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