Many people have been there: You were trying to open a can of baked beans when all of a sudden, you end up cutting your fingers. Good thing that a good first-aid kit for outdoor and backcountry adventures are usually stocked with the essential supplies for treating a small abrasion or cut, including occlusive dressing, adhesive bandages, adhesive tape, gauze, petroleum jelly, antibiotic ointment, a syringe, non-latex gloves, and tweezers. But, what if the cut becomes infected? How do you treat it? Well, there are several steps you can follow on how to heal an infected cut to ensure that nothing worse will happen.
What is an Infected Cut?
Having an infected cut or wound is not healthy for you, and might even cause some serious damages to your body. An unattended cut can go out of hand to the point that your body end up suffering from a serious infection.
The moment the infection sets in, there is a risk of losing limb, or worse, losing your life. Thus, knowing how to tell if your cut is infected and how to health it is important to bring good health to your body once again.
Once a body part gets injured or there is some sort of break in any area of your skin, it is what you consider a wound or cut. There are surgical wounds and there are also others that come about as a the result of trauma like bite, fight, accident, or someone using weapons like gun, stone, or knife to cause you physical harm.
You can always receive treatment for traumatic and surgical wounds. But, once a wound is left open without keeping it clean all the time, there is the risk for the wound to become infected.
By keeping the cut clean, there is a great chance that the healing process will continue, and sometimes, it can even heal on its own. Tiny wounds, like a simple cut or scratch, can stay free of any medical dressing, and once kept clean, they can heal with no need for stitches. But, bigger wounds often require medical attention, and might need not just stitches but also a tetanus shot.
Unclean cuts can attract germs in forms of fungi, viruses, and bacteria, which can lead to an infection. This infection can be in the entire wound, around its edges, or worse, it can spread further in your body.
Trauma wounds are not the only ones that can get infected but also surgical wounds. A surgical cut which gets infected is referred to as a surgical site infection.
Microscopic germs can be found in your skin. Open wounds which break the top layer of the skin can leave a potential opening for the germs to spread under the skin which can then trigger the development of infection. If an infection occurs, the tissues of the skin will find it hard to heal.
The human skin is a barrier against fungus, viruses, and bacteria. Once the surface of the skin is broken, you become at risk to picking up an infection if you don’t take extra care of your wound. If you don’t know how to heal an infected cut, you are in for trouble.
Steps to Treat Your Infected Cut
Assess the situation of the victim.
The first thing you have to do if someone is injured is to assess the victim then examine the injury. See to it that you identify how severe the injuries are, and what needs more attention.
Put a stop to the bleeding.
Stop the open wound from bleeding. Start first with the serious one or the one which has the most bleeding, if there are several injuries. Avoid wrapping the wound with a Tourniquet. Instead, put some direct pressure on it with a barrier between your skin and the wound. This barrier can either be a clean article of clothing or bandana, or you can also use some sterile medical gloves, if available. For wounds located on the limb, have the victim lay down on his back, and have the limb put above the heart. It will help slow down the bleeding rate, and stop the blood from reaching the wounded area.
Clean the cut.
This is an important step to prevent the infection. Once the bleeding stops, you can pour water on the wound at perpendicular angle. Ensure that you pour steadily and slowly at the same time. This helps flush out foreign matter in the wound. Make sure you use only the cleanest water because dirty water can only cause more infections.
Dress the wound.
Once the wound is cleaned, the next step is to cover it. See to it that you don’t suture or close the wound. Just leave it to the hands of medical professionals. Getting the wound dressed is only a temporary solution while waiting for the victim to get proper medical treatment.
Ensure that you use moist pad below a dry pad every time you dress the wound. A good example will be a damp gauze pad then cover this with dry one and secure it using a tape. For bigger wounds, you can also use a bandanna and a gauze pad. With the dressing, it is best to cover the wound completely, and prevent outside contaminants from getting inside.
It is a must to pay extra attention to the victim at all times. Give him lots of rest and make him stay hydrated all the time. Dressing should be checked once every 12 hours, then scan the cut for any infection. If something looks suspicious, just remove the dressing, clean the cut again, leave this open for a day then dress it once again.
Reduce Infection on Your Cut
Although you might follow all steps mentioned above, infections are still inevitable. Below are some other things you can do and use to lessen the effect of an infection:
- Use antibiotics if there are any available in your first aid kit.
- Drain the cut once daily with a probe.
- Put a warm compress on the wound for 30 minutes thrice a day.
- Ensure that the victim stays hydrated.
- Let the wound be exposed to flies before dressing it again.
- Get rid of the maggots after they killed the dead tissue.
- Use clean water to wash the wound daily.
The wound can then heal normally, with the infection reduced by following these steps.