Cuts and scrapes are a part of everyday life, especially for children and athletes who engage in regular physical activity. Usually, these types of minor wounds heal on their own; however, in certain instances invading bacteria can cause infections, which can lead to serious consequences.
Understanding the Risk
Even a tiny wound can result in catastrophic infections. These days, more and more people are contracting so-called super bugs, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can result in widespread health problems, amputation and even death. To make sure your wound is healing properly, it’s important to watch for these common infected wound symptoms:
- An unpleasant odor coming from the wound
- Generalized chills or a fever
- Excessive swelling or increasing redness around the wound
- Increasing tenderness or throbbing of the wound
- Swelling lymph nodes in your neck, groin, or armpit
- Red streaks within the skin progressing away from the wound
- Pus or drainage
- Warmth near or on the wound
Guarding Against Tetanus
Any break in the skin can serve as a portal of entry for C. tetani, the organism responsible for causing tetanus. A potentially dangerous condition, tetanus impacts the nervous system, causing painful muscle contractions and other life-threatening symptoms. A tetanus vaccination can prevent this; however, booster shots are required every ten years. If your tetanus immunizations aren’t up to date, it’s especially important to see a doctor when you suffer a wound.
If you notice red streaking around the wound or moving away from the wound, seek medical help quickly. This can be a sign of lymphangitis, an infection that impacts the body’s lymph system. Prompt antibiotic treatment usually leads to complete recovery; however, delayed intervention can result in abscesses, cellulitis, or sepsis.
Other Risk Factors
Certain conditions and diseases can increase your risk of infection. These include peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, or an impaired immune system. If you suffer from any of these and aren’t sure if you need treatment, it’s important to seek medical care when your wound exhibits even the slightest sign of infection.