How to Prevent Infection in Wounds
Clean and Treat Cuts Right Away - It is the Most Effective Way to Prevent Infections
Prevent Minor Injuries from Becoming Infections
Whenever you have an injury that breaks the skin, such as a cut, gash or puncture wound, you are in danger of having it become infected. If this happens, the wound will become swollen and red, and might even get warm or throb with pain. Sometimes there is pus. Left untreated, you could develop a fever and become seriously ill. In extreme cases, red streaks could even shoot up the skin on your body towards your heart. Infections are serious, and should be avoided whenever possible. So, how do we prevent this from happening?
The first and most important thing you should do when injured is to wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Nearly any soap will remove the dangerous bacteria. Make sure you remove any visible dirt. Soak the wound in water for a few minutes, if necessary, to remove any loose dirt. This action is so simple, and yet many people look at a minor cut or scratch and tell themselves “it will be OK.” Neglecting to wash a wound is a common reason for it to become infected.
Second, although some people like to pour alcohol or hydrogen peroxide over a wound, it is usually not necessary. Antibiotic ointments (such as Neosporin) will help kill most remaining germs. Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can sometimes even do further damage to the injured area. If you have washed the injury thoroughly, an antibiotic ointment is the gentlest and safest way to give yourself additional protection from infection. Remember, the most important action you have already taken was to thoroughly wash the injury.
Unless you have a compromised immune system, your body should be perfectly capable of healing most minor injuries. However, if your immune system is compromised or you happen to get exposed to a "super-bug," you will need to see a doctor and get antibiotics. In some extreme cases, it could save your life.
Keep a First Aid Kit Handy to Treat Wounds
Everyone needs a First-Aid kit. You should have one in your home, your car and with your camping equipment. Make sure it has the materials you will need to clean an injury and prevent infection.
Get a Tetanus Immunization
Long before you are ever injured, you should have had a tetanus immunization. In fact, as a precaution, try to make sure that your tetanus immunization is updated every 5 to 10 years. This will protect you against this very serious illness, when you are injured.
Notice that I said “when you are injured.” Virtually every human being is going to be cut, scratched or injured at some point. Keeping your tetanus immunization up-to-date is a sensible way to take care of your heath.
The next time you have a physical examination, ask your doctor about updating your tetanus shot. When you are injured, you are much less likely to develop a serious problem, especially if you take the time to clean and treat the injury.
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Antibiotic cream is one of the best ways to treat an injury ... once you have carefully cleaned it.
When to See a Doctor
If, despite all your best efforts, you still see signs of infection such as redness, swelling, pus, or streaking on the skin, continue to keep the injured area clean and apply antibiotic ointment regularly.
If the infection does not improve within a day or two, gets worse, or you develop a fever, seek medical attention quickly. At this point, it is likely that you will need antibiotics to cure the infection. You may even have picked up a serious infection that could require more drastic medical intervention, even hospitalization. In fact, you could even die or lose a limb if you do not get help. A doctor can determine the best course of action.