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How do I prevent infection in skin injuries?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner
If you have a skin injury that is not cleaned properly or that is not treated with antibiotic ointment, you could be at risk for infection. The first step toward preventing infection is making sure the skin injury is cleaned and cleared of debris almost as soon as it occurs. Applying an antibiotic ointment to either the skin injury or burn is also necessary to be sure it does not become infected at a later time. Bacitracin is often used for cuts; silver sulfadiazine is used more frequently for second- or third-degree burns. Serious injuries should be treated by a health professional, who will make sure that tetanus shots are up-to-date (your doctor will want to know if you've had fewer than three tetanus shots in your life, and whether you've had one in the last five to ten years, depending on the injury). A final method you can use to prevent infection is making sure to use clean bandages or dressings to cover the skin injury or burn.

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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.