wound (break in the skin) shows signs of infection
sutured wounds, puncture wounds, scrapes
Most contaminated wounds become infected 24 to 72 hours after
the initial break in the skin.
Signs of Wound Infection
cloudy fluid draining from the wound
Pimple or yellow crust formed on the wound (impetigo)
Scab has increased in size
Increasing redness around the wound (cellulitis)
Red streak is spreading from the wound toward the heart (lymphangitis)
Wound has become extremely tender
Pain or swelling increasing after 48 hours since the wound occurred
developed blisters or black dead tissue (gangrene and myonecrosis)
Lymph node draining that area of skin may become large
and tender (lymphadenitis)
Onset of widespread bright red sunburn-like rash
Onset of fever
Wound hasn't healed within 10 days after the injury
See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR WOUND
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If:
- You feel weak
or very sick
red, sunburn-like rash on you body
- Fever occurs
- Red streak runs from the
- Increasing redness around the wound
- Severe pain in the wound
- Face wound with signs of infection
wound, where finger has sausage shaped swelling and pain
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am
and 4 pm) If:
- You think
you need to be seen
- Pus or cloudy drainage from
- Pimple where a stitch comes
through the skin
- Wound becomes more tender
after the 2nd day
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If:
- You have
other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home If:
- Wound doesn't look infected
and you don't think you need to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD REDNESS OF
- Warm Soaks or Local
If the wound is open, soak it in warm water or put a warm wet cloth on the wound
for 20 minutes 3 times per day. Use a warm saltwater solution containing
2 teaspoons of table salt per quart of water. If the wound is closed, apply
a heating pad or warm, moist washcloth to the reddened area for 20 minutes 3
times per day.
Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment 3 times a day. If
the area could become dirty, cover with a Band-Aid or a clean gauze dressing.
Pain Medication: For pain relief, take acetaminophen every 4-6 hours
(e.g. Tylenol; adult dosage 650 mg) OR ibuprofen every 6-8 hours (e.g. Advil,
Motrin; adult dosage 400 mg).
- Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease,
are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory
drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
- Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
- Read the package instructions thoroughly on all medications
that you take.
Expected Course: Pain and swelling normally peak on day 2. Any redness
should go away by day 3 or 4. Complete healing should occur by day 10.
Contagiousness: For true wound infections, you can return to work
or school after any fever is gone and you have received antibiotics for 24 hours.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Wound becomes more tender
- Redness starts to spread
- Pus, drainage or fever occurs
- You become worse or develop any of the "Call Your Doctor"
This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical
advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full
responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Adult HouseCalls Online. Copyright © 2000-2004
David Thompson, M.D. FACEP
See Other Topics:
View Anatomic Index of Topics