Even with the best care and hygiene, wounds and scars can become infected. With drug-resistant staph infections reaching epidemic proportions in some parts of the United States as of October 2007, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, remaining vigilant is necessary.
Once the bandaging is removed, a small amount of discharge is to be expected. The discharge should last no longer than a day. A large amount of discharge or any unpleasant odor is not normal. Yellow, white or bloody discharge are signs of infection 1.
Crust forming, unusual bruising, scaling and peeling skin around the scar are not normal. Redness is a normal part of the healing process of a scar. If infection is setting in, the red area will spread to the surrounding skin 1. The red area may surround the entire wound or spread out in streaks resembling scratches. This is a sign that the scar is infected and spreading and requires treatment. Another symptom is if the scar becomes inflamed, raised and hot to the touch. Test the scar by touching it lightly and compare the temperature of the skin to your skin farther from the scar. When the scar is warmer than the other area of your skin, it is a sign that the scar is infected.
Aching or flu-like symptoms are another sign that your scar is infected, especially if you are exhibiting any of the above-mentioned symptoms. Unexplained fever, pain and general fatigue may mean infection is present and has entered your bloodstream 1. This is a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention.
Pain and some itching is to be expected with a wound. When the pain or itching becomes worse instead of better, your scar is not healing properly. Check with your health care provider for how long you should expect either to last. If the pain lasts longer than normal, contact your health care provider. If an old scar suddenly exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.