How do I know if my wound is infected?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Occasionally, a wound may become infected. Signs of infection include redness spreading from the wound site, increasing pain, drainage, warmth, swelling, a temperature above 100 degrees and a bad odor. If you experience any sign of infection, you should contact your doctor.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Signs of an infected wound include redness, drainage, foul odor, fever, swelling, and increased pain. Please consult your physician immediately with any of these symptoms consistent with wound infection.

The following symptoms could mean that your wound is infected and you need to contact your healthcare provider:

  • Increased pain at the wound site
  • Redness or swelling around or spreading out from the wound site
  • The wound site or surrounding area feels warm to the touch
  • Foul odor coming from the wound after the wound has been cleaned
  • Any change in color or amount of drainage from the wound
  • Fever or chills, nausea or vomiting
Brian Pervis, LPN
Nursing Specialist

Germs which are called bacteria are present on the skin. Any opening in the skin (wound) can allow the bacteria to travel into the opening (wound).  Some of the common signs and symptoms of a possible wound infection are redness and warmth around the area of the wound, a noticeable wound odor, an increase in pain in the wound, fever, noticeable swelling (edema), pus (may be white, yellow, or brown), an increase in wound discharge (exudates), the wound bleeds very easy, and/or no progress towards wound healing. The bacteria’s movement into a wound is considered a wound infection when the bacteria overpower the person’s protected (immune) response, and causes the body to react in different ways. To diagnosis the wound as an infection your clinician will examine the wounds signs and symptoms, and use the laboratory findings to support the diagnosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.