Infections occur when open wounds or sores allow bacteria to enter our bodies and overwhelm our immune systems. Typically associated with cuts, scratches and puncture wounds, infections can also come with minor injuries and sores, including pimples, blisters and burns. Because they can lead to serious complications, infections demand quick medical intervention, especially if you notice specific telltale symptoms.
When to Seek Help
Serious infections can result in a host of major problems, including tissue death, sepsis and amputation. With early intervention, most infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics, so it’s important to see a physician if you notice any of the following:
- Increased pain or swelling
- A foul smell from the wound
- Pus-like drainage, fever or chills
- Increasing redness around the wound
- Red streaks moving away from the wound
Caused by staphylococcus bacteria, staph infections can lead to serious health problems, especially if the microorganism is resistant to antibiotics. Many times, these infections appear as boils, cellulitis or impetigo, which causes swelling and redness on the surface of the skin. Sores, blisters or an oozing discharge may also develop. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
A serious medical condition involving the blood, sepsis occurs when the body has an overwhelming immune response to infection. It can result in widespread inflammation, which can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure, organ failure and death.
Since it can originate in different parts of the body, sepsis can promote a range of symptoms, including:
- Very low body temperature
- Fever and chills
- Decreased urination
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
If you’re seeing any of these telltale signs of infection, quick diagnosis and treatment are essential for successful recovery, so it’s important to seek medical help if you or a loved one exhibits any troubling symptoms. You can also reduce your risk of infection by washing your hands frequently and by keeping wounds covered to prevent bacteria from entering your body.