How to Identify an Infected Cut or Wound

Published October 15, 2013

An infected cut or other wound is one in which bacteria or other micro‐organisms have colonised.1 Anyone, including generally healthy people, can develop infections through wounds in their skin.2

An infected cut can:

  • Cause a delay in wound healing by promoting more inflammation1
  • Lead to complications like damage to surrounding tissue2

As such, identifying whether a cut is infected is very important. The three key signs of a wound infection to be aware of include:2

  1. Redness, warmth and tenderness in the area of the wound
  2. The presence of pus – A yellow‐white fluid with a disagreeable odour
  3. Fever

If someone is showing any or all of these signs with a cut or other wound seek medical advice from your healthcare professional.

To avoid wound infection and to aid healing, an antiseptic ointment or liquid can be applied after cleaning the wound, followed by a bandage if it is in an area where it might get dirty3 or be rubbed by clothing. Antiseptics can help to kill bacteria and other microorganisms that are responsible for minor wound and skin infections.

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