Infected Wounds: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

Our skin is like a suit of armor that protects us a great deal from the harmful microbes and also from the environmental pollutants. Any break or puncture in the skin is regarded as a wound that makes an easy channel for the pathogens(mostly bacteria) to enter our body. This is termed as colonization of bacterial pathogens.

An infection occurs out of the wound if our immune system is not strong enough to fight the bacterial pathogens. Certain types of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and other types of staphylococci are the most common pathogens responsible for infected wounds.

Some of the infected wounds are self-healing types and can resolve on their own. Other infections can turn serious if left untreated.

Types of wound infection

Infected wounds typically have the following underlying types:

● Traumatic wounds caused by break in the skin due to abrasions, lacerations, skin tears, bites, and burns; shows signs of infection.
● Sutured wound infections, can appear within 30 days after surgery. Caused due to improper or unhygienic dressing, certain physical conditions, etc.
● Contaminated wound infections might occur if the instruments used in the surgery aren’t properly disinfected or sterilized, and can also result from a drain placed during surgery. Infection usually occurs within 24 to 72 hours after surgery.

Signs and symptoms of wound infections

Infected wounds usually have one or more of the below symptoms:

● Pus or cloudy fluid draining from the wound.
● Pimple or yellow crust formed on the wound (impetigo).
● Scab has increased in size.
● Increasing redness around the wound (cellulitis).
● Red streak is spreading from the wound toward the heart (lymphangitis).
● Wound has become extremely tender.
● Pain or swelling increasing after 48 hours since the wound occurred.
● Wound has developed blisters or black dead tissue (gangrene and myonecrosis).
● Lymph node draining that area of skin may become large and tender (lymphadenitis).
● Onset of widespread bright red sunburn-like rash.
● Onset of fever.
● Wound hasn't healed within 10 days after the injury.

Treatments and interventions

Chances of infected wounds can be minimized by taking the following precautions:

● Proper cleansing of wounds at the earliest to reduce bioburden.
● Allowing proper nutrition and skin hydration.

Treatment of wound infections depends upon the type of wounds, degree of infection, and the bacteria that is causing the infection.

The doctor may take a sample of discharge from your infected wound for the purpose of testing and identifying if the infection is caused by bacterial invasion. If confirmed your doctor can perform antibiotic susceptibility testing to determine the most effective antibiotic to treat the infection.

For a suspected fungal infection other tests for culturing are used. Wound healing can slowed down due to slough and devitalized tissues and can affect the efficiency of topical antibiotics. Drainage or debridement of slough may be required. Antimicrobial dressings that uses silver technology, may be used to minimize bioburden. Use of any antibiotic whether systemic or topical, must be directed explicitly by a doctor.

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