Treating wounds

Signs That a Wound Is Infected

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: May 31, 2017
Signs That a Wound Is Infected

Cuts can vary from minor scrapes, shallow cuts to deep wounds requiring stitches and surgery. The skin is an amazing organ that protects the body against infections. Once opened, however, the risk of infection increases greatly. There are some easy ways so you can recognize the signs that a wound is infected, or whether it can become infected. By following these tips you can also avoid ending up with an infected wound.

You may also be interested in: What Happens if a Wound Reopens

Steps to follow:


First, it is essential to determine the seriousness of the wound. Thus, you should check how deep the wound is, i.e., whether it is a superficial scrape or, on the other hand, a deep cut. This does not mean that a shallow cut cannot be infected or not dangerous, because any wound can worsen, but deeper wounds tend to have a greater probability of becoming infected.

Signs That a Wound Is Infected - Step 1

If the wound is large, do not think twice and go to a medical clinic to check the wound and proceed as needed, thus avoiding possible infections resulting from improper care. Similarly, if the damage was caused with a rusted metal object, it is crucial to see a doctor to check if you have had a tetanus injection in the last five years. Also, if your cut was caused by an animal that you do not know, especially a wild animal, like a squirrel or a stray dog, you should get a rabies vaccination.

Likewise, deep wounds may require stitches or staples to help them heal, so a doctor must evaluate the cut and stitch it up if necessary. In this case, we recommend you consult this other article how to care for a wound with stitches.

Signs That a Wound Is Infected - Step 2

Either way, you must disinfect the wound with water and mild soap to prevent germs from multiplying. Also, you should apply a topical antiseptic - such as iodine - and as much as possible, cover the area with gauze or a sterile dressing; said bandage should be frequently changed for a clean one. If taking this action, you should monitor the evolution of the wound and be aware of any potential signs that a wound is infected.


Redness and swelling are two of the first signs of an infected wound. Thus, if the skin around the cut is excessively swollen and redness appears on the cut and the area around it, you may suspect that something is not quite right. If the swelling lasts for more than four or five days and gets worse rather than better, seek medical attention.

Signs That a Wound Is Infected - Step 4

Another of the signs that a wound is infected is heat in the affected area, if when touching the area in question you feel that it's hotter than usual, it is quite possible that it is becoming infected. Remember that normal human body temperature is between 35 and 37°C, so if you feel a type of local fever concentrated in the area of the wound, you should go to the chemist or doctor's surgery.


If the wound is infected, you may also feel a kind of stinging or prickling sensation, either for example, when clothing rubs on it, or at any other time for no apparent reason. While a slight pain can be considered normal, acute pain in the damaged area must be supervised by a physician.


Likewise, wounds that ooze pus are clearly infected, and if the pus smells bad, this is especially not a good sign. Dead white blood cells are what makes up the pus oozing out of an infected wound, this is why you may notice your wound is white. This is not necessarily bad, as it means that your white blood cells are doing their job, but it is important that the wound improves soon. If not, consult your doctor.

Signs That a Wound Is Infected - Step 7

The odour coming from wounds can also lead us to detect that it has been infected, this changes throughout the healing process, and should not give off any odour if it is healing right. By contrast, wounds that give off a nasty smell are those infected with bacteria. Find out how to identify and cure an infected wound in

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Signs That a Wound Is Infected, we recommend you visit our Family health category.


  • If you have diabetes or poor circulation, you may be more likely to get an infection even from a small cut, or have problems with wound healing. If you suffer from any of these conditions, consult your doctor.
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Signs That a Wound Is Infected