24 Feb
2011

Care can prevent infection
Any wound can become infected, particularly if it has not been thoroughly cleaned. An infected wound will take longer to heal, is more likely to scar and can result in serious complications, including death. Take the treatment of any wound seriously, and be alert for signs of infection.
Note your symptoms
Signs of an infected wound include:
Redness around the area or red streaks leading away
Swelling
Warmth and tenderness
Pus
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Tender or swollen lymph nodes
What you can do
With your doctor’s approval:
Expose wound to air unless it is necessary to bandage it.
Use a sterile bandage and change it daily or if it becomes wet.
Remove bandage and soak wound in warm water several times a day.
Apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin or Neosporin.
Prevention
Ward off infection by taking some simple steps as soon as the injury occurs. If the wound does not require emergency care:
Clean it thoroughly with mild soap and warm water.
Remove foreign objects and large particles of dirt with tweezers if necessary. Wipe the tweezers with alcohol first to disinfect them.
Avoid using antiseptics, which can damage skin tissue.
Keep your tetanus immunization up to date. You should get a routine tetanus booster every 10 years. However, if you have a dirty wound and have not had a booster within the last five years, or if you have not completed your primary series, your doctor may recommend a booster injection.
Final notes
Symptoms of infection generally begin to appear about 24 to 48 hours after the injury, although the potential for infection continues until
healing is complete. People with diabetes and patients with organ transplants or cancer are at higher risk of infection.
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