Infectious Wounds

Types of Wound Infection

Sepsis: Infection in chronic wounds can lead to sepsis if left untreated. Sepsis is defined as an inflammatory body response to infection, with severe sepsis and septic shock being the more severe forms. Sepsis can and does affect people of all ages. However, a 2012 Medical Study shows that the incidence and prevalence of sepsis increases with age. While people aged 65 years and older make up about one fifth of the American population, they make up two thirds of sepsis cases in hospitals and are approximately 20% more likely to develop sepsis than their younger counterparts. For more information about Sepsis and aging click here.

Staphylococcal Infections: Staphylococcus (referred to as staph) is a group of bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Although there are 40 types, the most common one is staphylococcus aureus

Staph generally causes no problems or illness. However, if the bacteria enters the body through a wound, cut or graze, or open skin (e.g. broken skin caused by eczema or bug bite), it may cause an infection.  Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections and can cause serious wound infections which can lead to sepsis if left untreated. 

MRSA: Since the 1950s, some strains of staph have built up resistance to antibiotics. Staph aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin is called methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). People often refer to MRSA as ‘golden staph’ because the infected pus is yellow/gold in color.

Most staph infections are treated with antibiotics, and there are still some antibiotics that can successfully treat MRSA infections.

What are the Risk Factors for Staph Infection?

  • Have an open cut or sore
  • Have a medical tube such as urinary catheter or feeding tube
  • Have a medical device inside your body such as an artificial joint
  • Have a weakened immune system or ongoing (chronic) illness
  • Live with or have close contact with a person who has staph
  • Play contact sports or share athletic equipment
  • Share items such as towels, razors, or cosmetics with others
  • Inject illegal drugs
  • Recently stayed in a hospital or long-term care facility

Signs and symptoms of staph infection: If you or your child has a staph infection of an existing or new wound, they may have:

  • swelling around the wound
  • a wound that fails to completely heal
  • a fever
  • redness and heat around the wound
  • yellow-coloured crusting (scabs) and weeping.

Prevention: Follow these steps to avoid a staph infection and prevent it from spreading.

  • Keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with bandages until they heal.
  • Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  • Do not share personal items such as towels, clothing, or cosmetics.

Tips for Athletes:

  • Cover wounds with a clean bandage. Do not touch other people’s bandages.
  • Wash your hands well before and after playing sports.
  • Shower right after exercising. Do not share soap, razors, or towels.
  • If you share sports equipment, clean it first with antiseptic solution or wipes. Use clothing or a towel between your skin and the equipment.
  • Do not use a common whirlpool or sauna if another person with an open sore used it. Always use clothing or a towel as a barrier.
  • Do not share splints, bandages, or braces.
  • Check that shared shower facilities are clean. If they are not clean, shower at home.

Primary Care

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