How to Tell When a Cut is Infected

A close-up of someone placing a bandage on the arm of an elderly woman.

Cuts and scrapes are common for most of us, especially children. Although typically not considered harmful or alarming, every time we get a cut, it opens us up to the possibility of developing an infection in our bodies that can lead to further complications if left untreated.

If you have a cut that you believe may be infected, we want you to know the signs and symptoms and get treatment sooner. Our urgent care facility is open seven days a week to treat minor to severe cuts and scrapes; just walk in.

Let’s discuss the signs of an infected cut.

How Should I Treat a Cut?

Most cuts can be treated at home. When you experience a cut, we recommend that you follow these steps.

  1. Slow and stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the affected area with a soft, thick cloth or bandage. Most cuts will require steady compression for at least a few minutes. Deeper and more significant cuts may require compression for up to 15 minutes. Don’t lift the bandage during compression, this will extend the time that your wound will bleed.
  2. Clean the wound. Run warm water over the cut for at least 5 minutes. Use a mild soap to thoroughly clean the area, removing any dirt or debris without causing more harm to the cut. This is a vital part of reducing the number of infection-causing bacteria penetrating the open wound.
  3. Pat the area dry after cleaning.
  4. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
  5. Cover the cut with clean, sterile gauze or a bandage.
  6. Remove the bandage daily, clean the cut, and apply a new layer of antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing.
  7. Once the area begins to scab, allow it to heal fully on its own. Resist the urge to pick or pull at the scab to reduce the risk of scarring or infection.

How to Tell if a Cut Is Infected

Although not all cuts become infected, a fair amount does. It is essential to know the signs and symptoms to get the treatment you need sooner. Infection symptoms typically appear 1-3 days after an injury occurs.

The most common symptoms of an infected cut include:

  • Redness around the cut
  • Swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Red streaking lines spreading from the cut
  • White, yellow or green discharge
  • Fever

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after a cut, you should seek treatment right away.

When to Seek Urgent Treatment for a Cut

There are various reasons you should avoid treating a cut at home and proceed to seek treatment immediately after experiencing a laceration.

We highly recommend that you visit urgent care after a cut if:

  • The cut is deep or gaping
  • Bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of applying direct pressure
  • The cut keeps opening-up
  • Pain is severe
  • Signs of infection develop
  • The object which you cut yourself with is dirty or rusty
  • Numbness or weakness in limb beyond the wound occurs
  • There is something stuck in the wound
  • The wound is on the face or neck

If you’re experiencing symptoms consistent with an infection or an extensive, deep cut that causes severe pain, you should visit Emerald Coast Urgent Care today for further diagnosis and treatment for your infected cut.

We welcome walk-in appointments seven days a week to help you feel better sooner. Infections that are left untreated could lead to life-threatening complications, so don’t delay care; your health matters to us.

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