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Planning Retirement Online

Cuts that Turn Bad

June 2013

bandaging a cut fingerThe world is full of sharp things!  And whether it is in the kitchen, garden or even the shops, every so often we cut ourselves or suffer an injury that punctures the skin.

Usually these are fairly minor and can be dealt with at home - cleansing the wound and protecting it with a sticking plaster will often do the trick.

But sometimes a cut, a puncture wound, or even a graze that breaks the skin, can become infected and this can then cause a number of problems.

Cuts and injuries can be contaminated through bacteria in the environment, from the item that caused the wound or from surrounding material – i.e. soil. There can sometimes be a risk of infection simply from bacteria in your own skin.

When an area becomes infected, it usually becomes increasingly painful; it can swell and become quite red. However, sometimes with a deep cut or wound, the infection can develop deep down and the surface skin can begin to heal normally. The skin can even heal over the wound while the infection is still developing below.

Eventually however the infection will show itself. Signs of infection can include red streaks extending from the wound, or pus forming in the affected area. Pain will begin to occur and probably increase; and as the infection develops you can feel generally unwell, develop swollen glands and eventually a high temperature.

If a wound has become infected, it is important you seek medical treatment. Otherwise the infection will continue to grow and spread and this can lead to very serious problems including bone infection and even sepsis, an infection of the entire body.

A visit to your normal medical practitioner is usually all that is needed. You may be prescribed a short course of antibiotics and if so, it is important to finish the entire course to ensure the infection has been totally eliminated.

If the cut is quite severe, it can well be worthwhile seeing your doctor because infections can spread very rapidly.  Cuts to the palm of the hand especially can become infected very quickly.  If the cut is quite deep and on your face, you may be advised to visit your local A&E centre where careful cleaning and possibly stitching may help to prevent scarring.

Sometimes a tetanus injection is advised. Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that in the past used to be known as “lockjaw” because it can cause muscle spasms in the jaw. Luckily today tetanus can be prevented by proper immunization and booster inoculations when needed.



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