Usually as long as a wound is pretty shallow and not too long, it does not require a doctor's care. However, even shallow wounds can become infected, especially if they were caused by a dirty item or were exposed to dirt and bacteria after the fact. An infected wound should be treated by a doctor, such as those at your local urgent care clinic. So what signs indicate that a wound is infected?
Redness and Swelling
It's normal for the area around a wound to be a little pink and puffy right after the wound occurs. This is usually just a reaction to the trauma your skin suffered. If your wound suddenly becomes red and puffy a day or a few days after it was created, however, this is probably a sign of infection. The swelling may also lead to a sensation of throbbing or pulsing within the wound.
Fluid or Pus
Infected wounds often give off pus. Contrary to popular belief, pus is not always yellow. It can be white, nearly clear, or even green. There may be a little pus or a lot. It may seep out or gush out. But one thing is for sure: pus is always a sign that a wound is infected and that it requires treatment.
Do you suddenly feel tired or exhausted for apparently no reason? This could be a sign that your wound is infected and that your body is working overtime to fight off the infection. Some people also start feeling a little nauseous as a result of an infection.
If you develop a fever after getting a wound, not only is the wound infected, but you may be developing a systemic infection, too. In this case, you need prompt medical attention; don't put off treatment until the next day. Head to an urgent care center that is open 24 hours a day; you need antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading.
Sometimes, a key sign of infection can be that the wound does not heal. The scab may keep softening and falling off, even though you don't have the wound bandaged. Or the wound may not scab. Slow healing could be due to a nutrient deficiency or immune system issue, but it can also be a sign of infection. All three problems require treatment by a doctor, so make sure you reach out if your wound is not healing as quickly as you think it should.