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What is a Wound Infection?

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A wound infection occurs when bacteria grows within the damaged skin of an injury. You may treat a minor wound infection by yourself, but you will need immediate medical attention if the infection becomes more severe.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Warmth around the wound

  • Unpleasant smell arising from the wound

  • More pain and/or redness around the wound

  • Yellow or green pus leaking from the wound

  • Fever

  • Aches and pains

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

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How to Treat:

If you receive a minor infection, you may be able to treat it without needing medical attention. Follow these steps to treat a minor infection:

  • Ensure that all medical equipment is clean before use.

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, then dry.

  • Clean the wound by running it under warm water for several minutes. Use soap around the skin, but not directly on the wound.

  • To remove any debris in the wound, use tweezers or carefully rub with a damp towel.

  • If necessary, apply a small amount of antiseptic ointment or petroleum jelly.

  • Allow the skin to dry before covering the wound with a gauze or bandage.

However, sometimes the resources aren’t available at our disposal. If you receive a wound during a disaster, you should try to clean and protect it as much as you can to prevent infection:

  • Immediately wash the wound by using clean water and use soap if available. Alcohol wipes can be substituted if there is no clean water.

  • Allow the skin to dry.

  • Apply any antiseptic ointment if possible.

  • Protect the wound with a gauze, bandage, or makeshift dressing.


Addressing the wound as soon as possible is the best way to avoid infection. Quickly identifying and caring for a wound can be the difference between a simple cut and a deadly infection.

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