An open wound is caused by a skin injury, such as a cut, a scrape, a puncture, an animal bite, a splinter or a burn. Wounds can become infected and cause severe complications if not treated properly.
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A wound can get infected when bacteria enters it. The deeper the wound, the more likely it is to become infected, especially if it was caused by an animal bite, according to the University of Michigan Health System.
The signs and symptoms of a wound's being infected are pus or fluid draining from the wound, enlargement of the scab, redness around the wound, a red streak leading from the wound to the heart, pain and swelling at the wound site, fever or failure to heal within 10 days.
To prevent infection of an open wound, wash all new wounds with soap and water for up to 10 minutes. Soak the wound in soapy water another 15 minutes, according to the University of Michigan Health System.
Do not pick at or touch the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment after it is cleaned. Reapply the antibiotic ointment three times a day, according to Banner Health Care.
Call the doctor immediately if you become very sick or have a fever. If the wound is on your hand or arm and you see a red line running up your arm, this could mean the infection is in your blood stream. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the wound becomes filled with pus or turns black, it could be infected with the dangerous MRSA bacteria; call your doctor immediately.
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