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It Takes More Than a Bandaid

Clean wounds thoroughly to prevent infection

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

SATURDAY, July 26, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- So you've stopped the bleeding from the cut on your finger and have it covered with a bandage. Everything's OK, right? Maybe not.

If you didn't clean the wound properly, you may end up with an infection, says the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Bites, punctures, dirty wounds, crushing injuries, wounds to the feet and wounds that don't receive prompt medical attention are all the most likely to become infected.

You should always wash your hands with soap before and after you do first aid to prevent the wound from developing an infection.

Symptoms of infection include heat in the area of the wound, a painful or throbbing sensation, redness around the wound, pus-like drainage and tissue swelling in the wound area.

Local skin infections need to be kept clean and dry. An antibiotic cream or ointment should be applied to the infected area.

If you don't treat a local skin infection, it can become a skin abscess. That's a collection of pus and infected material in or on the skin. The infection may then spread locally or throughout the body. The spread of infection through the bloodstream can cause serious health complications.

Don't assume that a minor wound is clean just because you can't see any dirt or other material in the wound. You must wash the wound. Make sure that you don't breathe on an open wound. If a wound does develop signs of local infection, contact your doctor.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more on wounds and infections.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health
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