Cuts happen all the time. From annoying paper cuts to severe gashes and wounds, cuts present an opportunity for infection. Smaller or minor cuts can heal quickly on their own, but you may need help with a cut if it becomes infected.
It could be challenging determining when a cut is becoming infected, so pay attention to the symptoms below and know when to seek medical attention.
An infected cut may appear red and inflamed. The surrounding skin can feel warm or hot, and the wound does not heal or worsens. Other signs your cut is infected include:
The infection from your cut may be more serious if you notice you begin to feel malaise, fever, or chills. Other signs of spreading infection include radiating red lines, streaks, and tenderness in an increasingly large area.
Any cut on the body can become infected. However, some conditions can increase your risk of infection. You are more likely to experience an infected wound if the cut is:
Underlying health conditions can also increase your chances of a cut becoming infected. People with diabetes or HIV may have a weakened immune system, affecting the time it takes cuts to heal since the body is less equipped to fight off infection. People who smoke and those with a cancer diagnosis should also take special care to avoid cuts and to treat them right away.
You can treat some cuts at home to prevent or combat minor infections. When you get a cut, wash it gently with water and soap. If there is debris like sand in the cut, try to rinse or gently brush out the debris. Allow the cut to dry, and apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment. If the cut is on a part of the body that may cause it to reopen or get dirty, you can cover it loosely.
If you notice a small cut is becoming infected, you may be able to help your body fight the infection at home. Ensure the area is clean and dry. Use an antibacterial ointment and keep the site dry as much as possible. But if the infection does not improve or worsens, you may need medical attention.
Infected cuts can lead to more severe conditions like cellulitis or sepsis. Sometimes, an infection that begins with a cut can permanently damage the surrounding tissue. You may need antibiotics or other medical treatments if your condition rapidly worsens.
If your infected cut is not improving, don’t wait. As the only health system in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic’s hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.