|Any injury that pierces the skin can become infected. Infection is caused by germs entering the body, either through the object causing the injury (for example, a dirty knife) or from sources after the injury occurred. Cuts, burns, bites, sting, and open fractures all carry with them a risk of infection.
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the risk of infection.
- When time permits (for example, for non-life-threatening, less serious injuries), wash your hands thoroughly before treating an open wound.
- Wear gloves if available.
- Try to reduce direct contact with the open wound—for example, ask the injured person to apply pressure with her own hand if possible.
- Cover injuries as soon as practicable.
- Do not cough over injuries—turn away and cover your mouth.
- Advise the injured person to check that her tetanus immunization is up-to-date.
Wash your hands thoroughly under running water before treating an open wound if you have time to do so. This will reduce the risk of transmitting germs into the wound.
A disposable rubber glove is an ideal barrier method to prevent contamination of wound. Keep a pair in the top of your first aid kit to reduce direct contact with the wound.
Ask the person who has been injured to apply pressure with her own hand if possible to reduce contact with an open wound and lessen the risk of infection.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF INFECTION
If the following signs and symptoms develop after an wound is inflicted, the injured person should seek immediate medical attention:
- Increased pain
- Redness around the site of the wound
- Discharge from site
- Unpleasant smell from the site of the wound
- Red tracks from the site to the heart
- Swollen glands
- Failure to heal
TREATING AN INFECTED WOUND
Seek early medical advice. Treat for shock if necessary
- Cover the wound with a sterile dressing and bandage into place.
- Raise the injured part if possible, to reduce swelling and pain.