Signs of an Infected Wound

Whether you skin your knee during a fall, stick your finger sewing, or suffer a serious cut while chopping an onion, all of these wounds involve breaking the skin. That opens up a world of potential problems, the most serious of which is infection.

Though most minor wounds form a scab and heal on their own, there are times when a wound won’t heal and needs medical attention to prevent serious problems. 

Dr. Lee Thornton and Dr. Mark Elliott offer advanced wound care services as part of their care at Meridian Plastic Surgery in Meridian, Mississippi, to ensure you don’t end up struggling with the health risks and problems that come with persistent wounds that fail to heal.

The four stages of wound healing

Wounds that simply don’t heal are called chronic wounds, because they’re just that: They don’t progress through healing stages, and become locked in a nonhealing state. 

There are four steps involved in wound healing: 

First, your blood forms a clot and bleeding stops — this is called hemostasis. Then your body initiates an inflammation response. Your injured blood vessels release fluid, swelling follows, but your wound is also cleared of bacteria and injured cells. This helps to guard against infection. 

The proliferation phase comes next, when new tissue and new blood vessels form. Finally, maturation occurs, which is when your wound closes.

If this process doesn’t come full circle and your wound doesn’t start to heal within two weeks or finish healing within six weeks, you’re dealing with a chronic wound. You need to seek care. 

Why don’t certain wounds heal?

Many factors contribute to a wound’s inability to heal, from chronic health conditions like diabetes and vascular diseases to mobility limitations, infections, and immune system problems. 

If you’ve had radiation treatment, that can stall wound healing, and so can smoking, living with nutritional deficiencies, and simply getting older.

In other words, wound healing problems are more common than you think — you might be surprised to learn that 6.5 million people are affected by chronic wounds in the United States.

Chronic wound risks

The biggest danger for anyone with a chronic wound is infection. When infection runs amok in your body and causes your immune system to turn on itself, sepsis occurs. This life-threatening condition progresses quickly and leads to organ shutdown and death if left untreated. 

There are effective treatments for sepsis, including antibiotics, but it’s critical to seek care early. Other serious complications can occur as a result of a chronic wound, including lockjaw, a serious soft tissue infection called necrotizing fasciitis, and even amputation.

How to determine if a wound is infected

It’s important to pay proper attention to a wound to make certain it’s healing as it should. You should seek treatment if you notice signs of infection. These include:

We meticulously evaluate your wound if you experience infection or suspect you may have a chronic wound. We also take a highly detailed medical history, ask in-depth questions about how you acquired your wound, and discuss your daily health habits. 

Our review of your wound and diagnostic investigation (blood tests, swabbing your wound, and other measures) informs the treatment plan we develop, which may involve removing injured, infected, or dead tissue in ways that safely preserve the healthy tissue surrounding your wound. 

We might also recommend compression therapy, special bandages, and skin grafting to induce healing. For a procedure like grafting, we have our own accredited surgical center right here for your comfort and convenience.

Depending on the condition and severity of your wound, we could use just one of these treatments or a combination of them. 

Wound care and healing takes time and teamwork between you and your doctor, but we’re committed to ensuring your wound heals fully and safely, and to helping you over the long term. 

Call our office to schedule a wound evaluation or make an appointment using our convenient online booking tool

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