How To Know If a Cut is Infected?

How To Know If a Cut is Infected?

Infection with microbes is a very serious medical threat. It is good to know if a cut is infected early and seek intervention. When you happen to cut your skin do not panic. Not all cuts are fatal. Some are just minor and can be treated with some basic first aid and do not require a doctor’s attention.

Why is My Cut Infected?

There are a host of microorganisms that live on your body. The skin hosts these microscopic bacteria and fungi that live on it without causing any harm to it. However, once the skin, which is the protective barrier is broken or cut these microorganisms can go into the body. An open cut is likely to be infected than a patched up or treated cut. There are also a number of factors that may cause infection to a cut including

  • If the object that inflicted the wound is dirty or contains germs
  • If the cut was caused by a bite by a sick person or animal
  • Pre existing medical conditions and ailments like diabetes
  • Foreign objects in the cut, for example, some remnants of debris or the object that caused the cut
  • Age, Younger people tend to be at a lower risk of infection and their cuts heal faster.
  • The depth and size of the cut may also determine infection. Bigger and deeper cuts are more likely to get infected.

How to Know If A Cut is Infected

How to know if a cut is infected is very vital and makes a big difference even in treating and healing of the cut. Spotting and stopping the spread of infection in time will limit a minor cut from becoming a major systemic infection. It also saves time and money used to treat the cut. A few minor signs to help you know if your cut is infected include

  • You notice some swelling around your cut. The swelling may also be accompanied by some tenderness
  • Instead of the pain gradually reducing it becomes worse over time
  • You may notice pus, a whitish or yellowish-greenish discharge oozing from the cut
  • There may be some redness on the skin around the infected area
  • The red area may feel hotter than the surrounding areas.

In the case an infection is not noticed and treated on time, you may develop more severe and outspoken complications. A cut may develop into a systemic infection with more pronounced symptoms. You may notice

  • The warmth around the cut may escalate to a full body fever
  • You may feel nauseated or start to diarrhea if the infection spreads to your gastrointestinal system
  • Body and Joint aches in areas that are not even close to the cut itself, for example, an infected cut on the finger may cause the whole arm pain.

If you notice some of these signs, your cut is mostly infected. You should see a doctor immediately.

What to Do If A Cut is Infected & Prevention

Once you get a cut you should clean it properly to avoid infection. Cleaning can be done with some warm clean water. You can use salt or more preferably some antiseptic to help you better get rid of germs. You can visit a qualified medical practitioner to have a better look at the wound and also give a better diagnosis. If it is not too deep and there is some debris in it, try removing it using some clean sterilized forceps. The doctor may also prescribe better treatments for example antibiotics and also be dressing to help prevent the spread of disease.

The dressing may be in the form of stitches in the case of a deep or major wound. A doctor can also prescribe or give a tetanus injection to prevent further infection. Doctors are also a key part in the prevention of infections of surgical cuts. A qualified medical practitioner should use clean and sterile infection when conducting an operation. The theatre or operation room should also be sterile and clean.

Healing Process of Cut or Wound

An infected wound has four basic healing stages. The first process is the clotting of the blood. This is called the Homeostasis Stage. It is then followed by inflammatory stage. This is where the wound leaks a mix of proteins, water and also salt that cause swelling around the wound. This prevents spreading of infection and helps repair the cells damaged.

When the wound is covered by new tissue, it is in its Proliferative Stage. The blood vessels are also rebuilt during this stage. It is then followed by the Maturation Stage when the cut fully heals and skin comes back together.

You can also play your part in the healing process once you know if a cut is infected. Observe basic body hygiene and also clean the cut properly. Eat a well-balanced diet to help heal and repair the broken tissues. Make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions and you take the full prescription. You should start feeling better in no time.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad