Wound Check, Infection

You have a wound that has become infected. The wound will not heal correctly unless the infection is cleared. Infection in a wound may also spread if it's not treated. In most cases, antibiotic medicines are prescribed to treat a wound infection. In some cases, your provider may need to open up the wound to allow the wound to drain. This will also help it heal.

Symptoms of a wound infection include:

  • Redness or swelling around the wound

  • Warmth coming from the wound

  • New or worsening pain

  • Red streaks around the wound

  • Draining pus

  • Fever

Home care

Follow all directions you are given to treat the infection.

Medicines

Take all medicines as prescribed. 

  • If you were given antibiotics, take them until they are gone or your healthcare provider tells you to stop. It's vital to finish the antibiotics even if you feel better. If you don't finish them, the infection may come back and be harder to treat.

  • If your infection is not responding to the medicines you are taking, you may be prescribed new medicines.

  • Take medicine for pain as directed by your healthcare provider.

Wound care

Care for your wound as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Apply a warm compress to the infected area for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time. A warm compress is a clean cloth soaked in warm water. Be very careful not to burn yourself. Test the cloth on a non-infected area to make sure it's not too hot.

  • Continue to change the dressing daily as directed by your provider. Change it sooner if it becomes wet, stained with wound fluid, or dirty.

    To change it:

    • Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water before changing the dressing.

    • Carefully remove the dressing and tape. If it sticks to the wound, you may need to wet it a little to remove it. (Don't do this if your healthcare provider has told you not to.)

    • Gently clean the wound with clean water (or saline) using gauze, a clean washcloth, or cotton swab.

    • Don't use soap, alcohol, peroxide, or other cleansers.

    • If you were told to dry the wound before putting on a new dressing, gently pat. Don't rub.

    • Throw out the old dressing.

    • Wash your hands again before opening the new, clean dressing.

    • Put on the new dressing.

    • Wash your hands again when you are done.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. If a culture was done, you will be told if your treatment needs to change. Call as directed for the results.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Symptoms of infection don't start to get better within 2 days of starting antibiotics

  • Symptoms of infection get worse

  • You have new symptoms, such as red streaks around the wound

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher for more than 2 days after starting the antibiotics, or as advised by your provider

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