Treatment of Infected Wounds

This post is in direct response to a question from Sue Harrison about taking care of infected wounds. What exactly is the treatment protocol.

Treatment of infected skin wounds is usually one of the easiest things we can do from a medical perspective. Unless it’s a superbug which is another concern entirely– but we’ll keep it simple for this post.

Here’s a short list of the treatment protocol.

1. Keep the wound from getting infected.  This boils down to a couple of things. In the ER– doing good wound irrigation for things like road rash and lacerations. Washing wounds physically removes the bacteria. If the bacteria aren’t present– they can’t fester to produce infection. Once the wound is cleansed– apply a topical antibiotic (like Neosporin or equivalent) to stem infection from developing.

2. Dressings should be changed once or twice daily. Unless it’s saturated– it can be left alone. The more things are mucked with– sometimes the more apt they are to become infected. You introduce more bacteria by touching.

Okay– say you’ve done all those really great things and it STILL gets infected.

One– is it really infected? Sometimes, people assume that mild redness is infection (this should only be 1-2mm around the wound edges) when it really is normal healing process. If the redness extends beyond 1-2mm– then there is more concern for infection.

Other signs: pain, swelling, pus draining, foul smell, red streaks running from the wound, swollen lymph nodes near the area, and fever.


First question: Should the wound/abscess be drained? Drainage is good because, just like irrigation above, it removes the bacteria. Some MRSA wounds are being managed just this way– with just drainage and no antibiotics– which is good to help prevent more resistant strains of bacteria from forming.

Second question: Place on oral antibiotics– but which one? This will be a good one to run by a doctor if it is important for the integrity of your ms. The most common one for surface skin infection is Keflex. But for abscesses– maybe something more along the lines of Clindamycin.

Sue– hoped this helped!!

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