Cuts and scrapes can happen, but a simple wound, if not treated properly, can quickly become a serious health risk. Even small scrapes or cuts can allow germs–including viruses and bacteria–to enter the blood stream, causing an infection which can lead to sepsis.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that can result from an infection. It occurs when the body’s immune response to an infection triggers widespread inflammation, which can damage multiple organ systems. Sepsis can be caused by many different types of infections, including those that arise from wounds.
Wounds can provide an entry point for bacteria and other pathogens to enter the body, leading to infection. In some cases, these infections can progress to sepsis if they are not treated promptly and effectively.
Preventing infection in wounds is an important step in reducing the risk of sepsis. This can be done by properly cleaning and dressing wounds, and by promptly seeking medical attention if a wound appears to be infected. Treatment for infected wounds may include antibiotics or other medications, as well as measures to promote healing, such as keeping the wound clean and moist.
If sepsis does develop, it is important to seek emergency medical treatment right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications. Symptoms of sepsis can include fever, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, and other signs of systemic inflammation.
- Cuts that have pus or liquid. Infected wounds tend to build up pus or fluid which is cloudy, green or foul smelling.
- Red skin around the injury. Red skin is sign of irritation. If the discoloration continues, there is a high probability that it is an infected wound.
- Swelling that gets worse after a few days. Swelling is associated with wounds; if swelling persists it could be a sign of infection.
- A pimple or yellowish crust on top. As the wound begins to dry, a crust starts to form in the outer layer. If the crust is yellowish and if there is a formation of pimples on or near the wound, it could be septic.
- Sores that look like blisters. If there is a formation of sores which look like pockets of fluid around the area, they could be septic.
- Pain that gets worse after a few days. If the pain experienced increases over time, this could be a sign of a septic wound.
- The wound hasn’t healed. If there’s nothing wrong with the wound but it looks the same and hasn’t closed up after 10 days, the wound may be septic.
- High fever. When a wound is septic, individuals tend to have a fever.
Any wound that isn’t properly cleaned and covered can allow bacteria, viruses or fungi to enter through the opening in the skin, leading to infection. Sepsis occurs when the body overreacts to infection, releasing chemicals into the bloodstream that ultimately cause organ failure and death. The best way to prevent sepsis is to prevent infection.
Check for the symptoms listed above. If you have one or more of these symptoms, a doctor or medical professional can check the wound to see if it is septic.
A septic wound is a medical emergency requiring immediate professional attention. Treatment with antibiotics and IV fluids is necessary.
Cuts and scrapes happen, but do not take a simple wound for granted. Wounds must be treated properly by cleaning and covering to prevent infection and sepsis. Always check for the telltale signs of infection. If you think you or someone you know has an infected wound, do no hesitate to seek immediate help. Check for high fever, cuts with watery discharge or pus, persistent red skin around the wound and swelling.