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Infected Cuts – Treat at Home or Seek Medical Attention?

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Infected Cuts – Treat at Home or Seek Medical Attention?

Scrapes and cuts are common, and most heal without incident. Sometimes, a cut becomes infected, which slows down or even prevents healing. Even worse, the infection can spread throughout your body and might trigger sepsis. That sounds scary, but you can stay on top of the situation by taking quick action if your cut becomes infected.

Learn about the symptoms and find out when to treat infections at home and when to go to UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers.

Symptoms of an Infected Cut

Treating an infected cut, laceration or puncture wound quickly before the infection spreads is essential. The intensity and severity of the infection will increase the longer you wait. Seek infected wound treatment if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Drainage coming from the wound
  • Fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling or warmth around the cut
  • Red streaks coming from the cut
  • Worsening pain
  • Slow healing
  • Swelling on the lymph nodes

How Should a Wound Heal?

You can get peace of mind by determining if your wound is healing as it should. You should always go to the emergency room or urgent care if you think something is wrong.

If your wound is healing correctly, it will start to scab over. It will initially be slightly inflamed and warm to the touch but improve over time. Also, some discomfort is normal while a wound heals, but that will also lessen daily.

Who is at Risk of an Infected Cut?

Anyone can develop an infection in a cut, but some people are at a higher risk. You’re more likely to develop an infection if your cut was caused by a bite or crush injury. Also, dirty cuts and cuts located on the feet are prone to infection. Finally, failing to treat your cut immediately increases the risk of infection. It’s essential to clean and dress a wound immediately so bacteria and germs can’t cause an infection.

infected cut

Infected Wound Treatment at Home

If you notice a bit of redness around the cut but don’t have other symptoms, such as fever, you can try to treat the infected cut at home. Start by gently cleaning the wound with soap and water to remove infection-causing germs. Next, place a warm cloth on the cut or soak it in warm water. Apply the cloth or soak your cut three times a day for ten minutes.

You should also apply over-the-counter antibiotic ointment when treating an infected cut at home. Apply the ointment three times a day and cover the wound with a bandage after each application. Also, change your bandage anytime it gets dirty or wet.

Infected cuts can be painful, so you may need to take over-the-counter medication while it heals. If you’re still in pain or your infection worsens, go to and emergency room or urgent care for treatment.

Infected Cut Treatment at Urgent Care

Don’t wait until you have significant symptoms before going to the emergency room or urgent care. The sooner you address the infection, the easier it will be to get back on the road to recovery. An urgent care doctor can clean and dress your wound and provide necessary medications.

Taking antibiotics for infected cut treatment is the fastest way to eliminate the infection. Prescription antibiotics are much more potent than over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, and you should see an improvement within 24 hours. Still, it may take a few days for the infection to disappear.

Return to emergency room or urgent care if your infection does not improve. You may require additional treatment to eliminate the infection before it spreads to other parts of the body.

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center

At UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care are fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to fractures to chest pain, with on-site labs, CT, ultrasound and X-ray, all under one roof. The ER and urgent care centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No appointment is necessary — just walk in!

Find the UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center in Jacksonville nearest you at