A Single Cut, Untreated, Can Lead to Infection. Here’s How to Tell if You Have a Festering Infection and What to Do About It.

infection on a knee

Infections can poison your blood or attack your vital organs, such as your kidneys, heart, liver and even your brain – even if you control it, you are likely to be miserable at least and out of commission at worst.

There are, however, things you can monitor to ensure you quickly get ahead of most infections.

What to Do If You Cut Yourself

• Let’s say it’s a pretty big cut – not just some small paper cut. Probably happened because you were playing with your Kershaw Cryo instead of taking the garbage out like the Mrs. asked you to do 20 minutes ago.
• You start bleeding. At this point, immediately irrigate (wash) the wound with soap and water (yes, you need soap and not just water – remember you need to make sure none of that bad bacteria gets to your blood).
• If you see dirt or debris in the wound remove it using tweezers cleaned with alcohol.
• Locate an antibiotic (like Neosporin or Polysporin), and apply it as a thin layer. For some people this causes a rash – if that happens, obviously stop.
• Figure out whether to use stitches, bandages, or super glue. Get stitches for really deep wounds.

Butterfly tape or adhesive strips are fine for minor cuts, but for serious ones I strongly recommend going old school with surgical thread. For small cuts I use superglue, as it’s effective and safe. And bandages are also an option for small cuts if you’ve got no superglue on you.

• Change dressing regularly and watch for signs of infection.
• Keep in mind, if you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years you may need a booster shot.

Looking for Signs of an Infection

• Swelling or redness around the wound.
• Warmth around the affected area.
• Increased pain beyond what can realistically be expected from a wound of that type.
• Drainage of pus.

Signs You Need a Hospital Now

• Red lines leading away from the wound towards your heart.
• Necrosis of the flesh. This means that the flesh around the wound has died. Look out for black tissue and a funky smell.
• Sudden fever coupled with aches, diarrhea, nausea, rash, and vomiting. These could be the symptoms of toxic shock.

Don’t take chances with your health. While in most cases the body will do a good job of keeping out bacteria simply by flooding the area of the cut with platelets that will then clot up your blood and create a scab, in some cases, the body can’t prevent a problem from occuring.If the object that cut you in the first place had some bad bacteria, or if some dirt or grime got onto your cut after you began bleeding and had some of that bad bacteria, your cut will get infected. And an infection isn’t always something you can just leave to your immune system and sleep off.

So do yourself a favor. Make sure to take preventive measures before the cut gets infected if you possibly can (spray disinfectant/alcohol on it, bandage it up – keep that thing clean!), and be absolutely sure if you notice any signs of infection, to get that cut checked out straight away! Your life could actually depend on it.

Your immediate safety in a survival situation is paramount to you making it through in one piece.

Once you have ensured your immediate safety, however, a potentially more deadly threat is injuring yourself and the injury becoming infected – especially if medical attention is not immediately available, which means you must be prepared before you are confronted with an infection.

To learn more about infections, please visit More Than Just Surviving.