When To Seek Wound Care
One of the human body’s first lines of defense against infection covers nearly your entire body. That’s right, your skin! While this may seem odd, especially if you’ve ever gotten a paper cut, your skin accomplishes a lot. There are three main layers of skin – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. Each layer covers a specific depth from the very top layer of the epidermis to your inner layers of tissue, the hypodermis. But what happens when a cut, or worse, becomes infected and needs wound care treatment? How do you know when you need medical attention? CCMH’s Wound Care & Hyperbaric team has the answers!
Signs of Wound Infection
For most, an infected wound only requires a clean cleaning, an antibiotic ointment, a bandage and maybe a pain reliever. Maybe your cut is red and slightly swollen or hurts to touch. Typically, these wounds will take 1 to 2 weeks max to heal fully. But how do you know when a wound is more than minor? Or seriously infected?
Certain injuries are more at risk of infection. These can include deep wounds:
With or without jagged edges
- Entered by dirt or other foreign particles
- Caused by an animal or another person
- Caused by a dirty or contaminated object
Signs of Serious Infection
Typical signs of mild infection can present as swelling, redness and some pain. These can sometimes lead to other, more serious signs of infection:
- The skin around the wound is warm
- The wound is discharging yellow or green pus
- Red streaks around the wound
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Aches and pains
Proper wound care is critical to preventing even further serious injury or complication.
At-Home Wound Care
Some simple at-home wound care can involve the simple steps discussed earlier (keep clean, antibiotics and cover). In addition to these, you can:
- Change your wound’s bandage at least once a day. Always replace your bandage if it gets damp or dirty.
- Wash the wound with warm, soapy water
- Do NOT use antiseptics, such as hydrogen peroxide or iodine.
- Avoid picking at any scabbing.
- See a medical professional if your wound does not show signs of improvement within 1 to 2 days.
Wound care at home can make a huge difference! However, it’s important to note that home care should only be used for mild infections and small wounds. Seek proper medical attention for severe wound infections!
When Should You Seek Professional Help
Serious wounds may require treatment ranging from strong antibiotics to removal of dead/contaminated tissues. Seek professional medical treatment early and especially if you notice your wound is:
- Bleeding and cannot be stopped
- Open and visibly may need sutures
- Showing signs of serious infection
- Difficult to completely clean and remove all debris
- Caused by a bite or dirty object
Knowing whether your tetanus immunizations are up to date is also important!
There are several health conditions that can elevate your risk of wound infections. These include:
- Poor blood circulation
- Weakened immune system
- Low or no mobility
Even if you are not part of these groups, be aware of health complications you have that may also hinder the healing process. If you suffer from an infected wound or are concerned about a wound getting infected, CCMH’s Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine team of medical experts would love to treat you.
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Lab Tests Online. https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/wound-and-skin-infections
Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325040#when-to-see-a-doctor
EMedicine Health. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/wound_care/article_em.htm