Signs of an Infected Cut

Your body is designed with survival and self-preservation in mind. It has the fantastic ability to regenerate and heal itself, which comes in handy whenever you get a cut, burn, scrape, or wound. 

Of course, severe lacerations may require immediate medical attention. If you find that your cut won’t stop bleeding, is especially deep, or you can’t clean it thoroughly on your own, see Dr. Perry Weisman and our team here at WiseCare Urgent Care. We make sure the wound is sterile and properly closed so that you can avoid infection — which is your primary goal whenever an injury breaks your skin. Here’s what to look for.

Redness and swelling

As soon as your skin gets cut, blood rushes to the area carrying oxygen and other healing properties to begin the regenerative process and guard against bacteria that may try to enter. So expect to see some redness and swelling in the first few days.

But if the inflammation continues longer than that, it may be a sign that bacteria have snuck past your defenses and settled into your wound, which means infection.

Warm or hot skin

When you’re injured, your immune system jumps into action and sends white blood cells to the scene to battle bacteria. As this war wages on, it heats your skin and causes it to feel warm or hot to the touch. 

Like the symptoms of inflammation and redness, this heat is expected and is welcome in the first couple of days. But if it lingers beyond that, it means your body is still working to win the struggle against foreign invaders and may need some help from antibiotics or another thorough cleaning.


During the battle against bacteria, some of your white blood cells die and end up in a liquid substance full of proteins called pus. It’s a natural byproduct of the immune system’s response, and it can be either milky, yellow, or brownish. 

A small amount of pus is normal, but an excess amount could mean that your body is losing the fight. When pus builds up underneath the skin, it causes an abscess that may need to be drained. If you have pus in excess or it begins to give off a foul smell, seek medical attention for the infection.


An infected cut that goes untreated can lead to severe complications. If the infection enters your bloodstream, it quickly spreads to other parts of your body. A telltale sign of this is a fever. If your wound is taking a long time to heal, is oozing, is red and hot, and you have a fever, don’t wait — see Dr. Weisman immediately.

How to care for your cut at home

Most minor cuts can be treated effectively without a doctor. Just make sure the wound is thoroughly cleaned out, including removing any debris like rocks or splinters. Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or piece of gauze until the blood stops flowing. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment and cover with a bandage.

Wash the wound at least once a day, and change the dressing every time you wash the wound, as well as whenever the bandage gets dirty or wet. If you don’t see any improvement signs in two days, visit our team for a professional medical evaluation.

For wound care or any urgent medical need, contact us for an in-person or online visit, or walk into either of our Pasadena or Severna Park, Maryland, locations.

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