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How to Recognize the Symptoms of Infection in Wounds

By Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Infection in Wounds. Wounds, when dealt with by a professional, are often easy to take care of and heal well. However, there are times when even the simplest wounds carry the risk of infection. Whether they were not properly cleaned at the time of dressing or whether they simply haven't healed properly and have been exposed to contagions, it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of infection in wounds.

  1. Examine wounds visually first, looking for anything out of the ordinary. You can often spot the symptoms of an infection by sight alone. Be sure exercise care when removing or changing dressings as you inspect for infections.

  2. Check for increased swelling. Swelling is often a sign of infection, particularly when accompanied by a reddening of the skin or the presence of a reopened wound.

  3. Look for signs of pus or other infectious materials. Such fluids are often a result of your immune system fighting back infection and expelling it. It is important to note that not removing pus or drainage fluids can lead to a further spreading of the infection.

  4. Recognize tenderness of the wound as a possible sign of infection. Tenderness is sometimes a result of healing, but marked tenderness as well as a burning sensation is most often the result of infection.

  5. Monitor additional symptoms of illness like fever, coughing, headache and nausea. These are potentially indicative of the presence of an infection in the wound. Especially if the patient has a fever above 100 degrees F, you should seek medical attention immediately.

  6. Tip

    Use alcohol or an iodine-povidone solution to clean the wound when you first dress it. Either option will be able to help kill bacteria present in the wound and prevent infection. Flush puncture wounds or deeper wounds using an irrigation syringe to help free debris from the interior of the wound. Debris in the wound is one of the main causes for infection in wounds.


    Always seek medical attention when a person's wounds are large enough to require stitches. Such wounds can become easily infected if not properly treated right away. Never ever leave an infection untreated. Infections can spread throughout the body and cause even more serious damage when left without proper care.

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