Cuts on the skin can range from minor abrasions to deep ones that may require stitches. The risk of infection is high in case of cuts and needs to be attended to, in time. Here are some ways to determine if the cut or scrape is infected or not, and the treatment options you have at hand.
Everyone should possess some basic first aid knowledge, when it comes to common household injuries such as cuts and skin irritations. First investigate and diagnose your condition, whether the cut is a minor one or a deep cut. Timely treatment is extremely important especially when the cut is deep.
Small cuts can be equally dangerous if get infected. Patients with diabetes or a weak immune system, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, people on steroid medication, patients undergoing dialysis or HIV-infected patients are more likely to develop infection through cuts or wounds and should immediately contact their medical practitioner.
Avoiding an Infection
- The very first thing that a person should do is sanitizing or washing hands properly before touching the infected wound.
- You could apply direct (gentle) pressure on the cut using a clean cloth or bandage to stop bleeding, in case you notice it occurring. If bleeding doesn’t stop, then you need to seek medical help.
- The area that has received a cut needs to be thoroughly washed with soap and water to avoid entry of bacteria or other foreign substances.
- Remove all foreign particles like stones and glass from the wound using a pair of tweezers.
- The next thing to do is to apply firm pressure, then use an antiseptic cream on the wound, cover the cut with a Band-Aid or a sterilized gauze.
- First-aid antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin or Bacitracin help in faster healing of minor wounds, scrapes, puncture or burns. It helps in stopping the growth of bacteria and preventing an occurrence of infection.
Symptoms that Tell You if a Cut is Infected
Proper awareness about wound care can help to prevent these symptoms at an early stage. It is important to seek medical help, if the wound does not heal within few days, or if it gets worse and one starts to experience high fever or headache.
- The symptoms begin with a painful sensation and slight redness around the injured area. Although this symptom also means that the body is fighting back the infection, an increase in redness and swelling is the first sign of an infected wound.
- Watch out for any signs of discharge like oozing of pus or blood. The blood that is discharged is usually darker, foul-smelling and contains pus in it.
- The skin around the infected wound will be painful and tender to touch. You will also notice a slight red streak around the wound.
- The scab formed on the cut may be moist yellow-green in color.
- You may also notice a swelling in your lymph nodes.
- Unbearable itching and boils around the wound also suggest an infection.
Treating an Infected Wound
- To treat infected cuts, one must be aware of the depth of the cut as deep cuts may need stitches. Getting stitches will reduce the risk of developing an infection.
- The first step towards the treatment is to stop excessive bleeding; therefore change the dressing and clean the wound using a good antiseptic and cover it with a sterilized gauze.
- If the bleeding cannot be stopped and stitches are needed, please visit the doctor as soon as possible.
- If you are getting fever or chills, make sure that you inform your general physician.
- Clean the wound area thoroughly, removing dirt or glass particles. Avoid scratching the wound or it will start to bleed again.
- Get a tetanus shot if you didn’t get one in the past 3 years.
- If you were bitten by a dog or another animal, get a rabies shot done.
- It is best to keep the cut clean and change the gauze or Band-Aid, whenever it gets wet. The aim is to keep the wound dry to quickly heal the infected cuts.
- As a precaution against systemic infection, always check the wounds of children and elderly thoroughly before administering the treatment. People suffering from diabetes or immune system diseases should also take extra care.
Infected cut treatment always begins with cleaning of the wound and being aware about when one should visit the physician.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that this is for informative purposes only. It is neither intended, nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.