Accidents happen, and sometimes you get cut or wounded. It’s not uncommon for minor, or major, injuries to occur. They might even occur when you’re out hiking, camping, or in a survival situation. You may end up treating it yourself at first until you can seek medical attention.
Be sure to check out our article on the dos and don’ts of wound care. When you do clean a wound or gash be sure to follow these steps. Even if you are following the correct procedures there’s always a possibility of infection. Infection occurs when the object that cut you was contaminated with debris or bacteria of some kind. It can also occur if you have properly cleaned the area but dirt or germs infiltrate the bandage and make their way into your cut anyways.
This is why it’s especially important to not only clean the wound immediately but to also bandage and cover it up as best as possible to decrease the possibility of infection.
The First Signs
You may not realize it right away if your cut is infected. Sometimes the healing process and the start of an infection can look similar. Redness around the wound site may occur as it is healing as well as if you have the beginning of an infection. You may also experience additional pain if there is an infection. This is difficult to really determine because if you’ve been cut you’re probably having a bit of pain as it is. So how does infection pain feel different than wound pain? If you’ve ever had an infection you’ll know. The part of the body may also feel warmer. For example, if you have a significant cut on a finger that is infected you may feel like that particular finger is warmer or hotter than the rest. This is another common sign of infection and should not be ignored.
Some other telltale signs of infection are after a few days, a properly healing cut will start to feel a bit better, swelling will dissipate, and you may even begin to scab up and heal. With an infected wound, the pain will continue, the swelling may increase, and you’ll probably start to see pus forming under the skin (white or yellow liquid).
When To Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve started experiencing pus, or additional swelling, it’s time to start heading to a doctor or emergency center. However, it’s important to immediately seek medical attention if you start to experience a fever or have general fatigue or malaise. In addition, if you ever see streaks under the skin from your possibly infected wound to any other parts of your body, especially towards your heart, you must get to a medical facility as soon as possible. These streaks can be a sign of septicemia. Essentially this occurs when the infection is your blood has poisoned it and is spreading. This can lead to death, toxic shock, gangrene, and even a staph infection.
Knowing when to seek help is really important. If you are wondering whether your wound may be infected, you should probably seek medical advice just to be sure.
Once you have sought medical treatment you will most likely be given an antibiotic after having the wound cleaned. If you think you are catching the infection soon enough you may be able to treat it on your own. Be sure to wash out the wound, clean it with soap, water, and an antiseptic, and be sure to wrap it to prevent any further bacteria from entering.
If this does not work and after a day or two you are not seeing any significant changes you will need to seek medical attention.
It’s always important to have basic first aid knowledge, especially when it comes to wounds and cuts. If you’re ever unsure whether you have an infection, err on the side of caution and get it checked out.