How to tell if a wound is infected

How to tell if a wound is infected

A wound infection occurs when germs infect your skin and sometimes the deep tissues underneath it. In some cases, it’s caused by a parasite invading your skin. You can get a skin infection any time your skin is broken, whether from a cut, puncture, sting, or bite.

Some infections happen at the skin’s surface, but they can start deeper in the wound. You can treat some minor skin infections at home. Make sure to clean the wound with soap and water, dry thoroughly, and apply an over the counter topical antibacterial ointment to it.

Some common symptoms of skin/wound infection include:

  • Pus or fluid leaking out of the wound
  • Red skin around the injury
  • A red streak that runs from the cut toward your heart
  • Yellowish crust on top of the wound
  • Pain that worsens around the wound
  • Increased swelling around the wound
  • Fever or chills
  • No healing of the wound after 10 days

It is important to follow up with your medical provider if you experience any new or worsening symptoms following a skin wound.


Nelson, A. (2021). How to tell if you have a skin infection: 9 telltale symptoms. WebMD. Retrieved March 2, 2022

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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