Today, chronic wounds impact nearly 2.5% of the US population and add up to over $96 billion in annual medical costs. Many of these open wounds aren’t healing properly— and are particularly difficult to treat, because they’ve developed more severe infections than basic, at-home wound care can offer.

Once an injury becomes a wound infection, the healing process can be long, complicated, and, in extreme cases, life-threatening. That’s why it’s critical to carefully watch for early signs of wound infection. 

If you notice any of the following telltale wound infection signs and symptoms, prompt and proper wound care can be the difference between healthy wound healing and a more serious infection.

How can you tell if a wound is infected? Watch for these common signs

If you’ve recently had a surgical wound, pressure ulcers, accidental deep wound or even a surface-level skin injury, wound infection can set in quickly. The sooner you seek medical attention for these early signs of wound infection, the more treatment options you may have.

Increased redness or unusual wound colors

Minor wounds with mild redness typically indicate healthy wound healing. Basic wound care that keeps the granulation tissue moist and protected from bacterial infections is usually sufficient. But if you notice yellow tissue, particularly around surgical wounds, intervention by a wound care specialist may be necessary. If the wound begins to turn black, necrotic or dead tissue may be preventing wound healing—and a life-threatening infection could set in.

Swelling and pain around the area

There’s no question, wounds are uncomfortable—especially during the inflammatory stage of the wound healing process. But if you notice worsening pain, it may be time to seek further treatment. Even minor wound infections can cause increased pain, and this early warning sign shouldn’t be ignored.

Slow healing process

Many superficial wounds and minor skin wounds heal within a few days to a week. But larger or deeper wounds, puncture wounds, and traumatic wounds can take longer to progress through the healing stages.

If you notice a wound healing slower than expected, or if the wound won’t progress past the inflammatory stage, this can indicate a biofilm has formed—and it may have become a chronic wound. Wound infections caused by biofilms are particularly dangerous. Not only does the biofilm block healthy blood flow to the wound site and surrounding skin, once the wound is infected by a biofilm, it’s difficult to eradicate the threatening microorganisms—especially if they’re resistant to antibiotic ointments and solutions.

At the first sign of biofilm, which can indicate a serious bacterial infection, seek immediate medical attention or contact a wound care specialist.

These 3 signs suggest positive wound healing

While increased redness, pain, or a slow healing process can indicate a wound infection is present, the following signs can mean the wound is healing properly and further treatment may not be necessary.

The formation of eschar or scabs

As a wound starts progressing through the healing process, in some cases, eschar—or a thin layer of dead tissue—can begin to form. Eschar forms in larger or deeper wounds, traumatic wounds, pressure wounds, and other kinds of serious injuries. It’s triggered when blood flow to the wound and surrounding skin is limited, and it darkens the healing area. While eschar can look alarming, it’s actually a defense mechanism our bodies use to promote healing and prevent infections. Unlike necrotic tissue that can lead to chronic wounds, eschar acts as a natural barrier to keep the wound clean and healing as it should.

Similarly, the formation of scabs on superficial or partial-thickness wounds helps the body prevent infection and ensures the underlying wound is healing effectively.

Both eschar and scabs are positive signs of wound healing, and suggest the body is functioning as it should.

The formation of granulation tissue

Granulation tissue is a kind of tissue that forms in the early healing stages. It is often pink or red, and includes new blood vessels, proteins called fibroblasts, and white blood cells that fight against bacterial infection.

As this healthy tissue begins to fill in the wound and promote healing, the risk factors for wound infection decrease.

A decrease in swelling, redness, and pain

As the wound progresses from the inflammatory stage to the later stages of wound healing, you should notice less discomfort and redness around the wound site. This is a key sign your immune system has blocked wound infections, and that the site is healing properly.

Dakin’s Solution is one way to support the wound healing process—and fight back against life-threatening microorganisms

Dakin’s Wound Cleanser is non-sensitizing, non-irritating, and non-cytotoxic, making it an affordable and accessible no-rinse wound care treatment option for medical professionals and their patients. And, because it’s a non-antibiotic wound-cleansing solution, it’s effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms, including MRSA and VRE. In fact, in one study, Dakin’s non-cytotoxic formulation killed at least 99.99999% of MRSA and VRE in just 30 seconds of contact—without slowing the wound healing process.

Where can you buy Dakin’s Solution?

Each of Dakin’s proven, safe, and affordable wound care solutions are available in our online store, through Medical Monks, and by request through most major and local pharmacies.

To order Dakin’s for your patients or yourself:

Have questions about our line of wound care products? Contact our team.

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