Unless a wound is very recent, you should assume that untreated wounds are likely infected or may become infected. Typical signs of infection include swelling, pain, fever, and the presence of pus. Absence of these signs does not mean the wound is not infected, however. Infected wounds should be treated by a physician or other medical expert. When that is not immediately possible, there are steps you can take to care for the wound until you are able to contact medical personnel. Good sanitation is very important when dealing with any wound and is a necessary part of infected wound care. Make sure your hands are clean before tending to the wound and use only sterile bandages whenever possible.
Things You'll Need
- Sterile gauze
- Medical tape
- Antiseptic ointment or solution
- Clean water for wound irrigation
- Sterile tweezers or other instrument for removing dead tissue (optional)
How to Treat Infected Wounds
Wash your hands carefully before treating the infected wound. Be sure to clean beneath your fingernails and use antiseptic soap if available. After sanitizing your hands, put on clean exam gloves if gloves are available.
Sanitize the area of skin around the wound with alcohol or an antibacterial solution. Cleaning areas of skin near the wound site will prevent accidental contamination of the wound by any harmful bacteria present on the skin.
Carefully wash any foreign matter and pus from the wound. Avoid scrubbing the wound. Scrubbing may open blood vessels, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream. It is better to simply pour water over the wound to wash out debris. If there is dead tissue present and visible within the wound, try to remove as much as possible.
Place antibiotic ointment, or an antiseptic solution, on sterile gauze and apply to the wound. Secure the gauze to the wound and try to keep the bandage clean. Bandages may need to be changed frequently, and at these times the wound should be checked.
Seek professional medical attention for the wound as soon as possible. Infections can get serious very quickly. Even a small wound should be treated seriously if it shows signs of infection.