Dealing with infections and blood
- Infections can enter any wound where the skin is broken. Any wound that has not begun to heal within 48 hours may be infected. Infected wounds can heal without attention because of your immune system’s ability to fight infection, but usually by the time you begin to feel unwell as a result of the infection, antibiotics are usually needed.
A wound may be infected if:
- there is increased pain and tenderness around the sight of the wound
- the wound is swelling, red and there is heat surrounding the wound
- you see pus in the wound
- there is a line of redness running away from the wound
- there is tenderness in the glands near the wound
- you are feeling unwell or have a fever
Some infections are blood-borne and can be passed from one person to another if blood from the first person:
- contains live germs – it’s fresh blood (not dried) and contains germs, such as the HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses, comes into contact with the skin or mucous linings – mouth, rectum, vagina – of the second person, and the skin or mucosa of that person is damaged, so allowing the germs to pass into their blood.
Ways to stop blood-borne germs being spread include:
- Where possible, getting the injured person to apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding
- Using gloves to protect yourself – if gloves aren’t available, you can use plastic bags of cling film
- Use a waterproof dressing to stop seepage.
- Thoroughly wash all the blood from your skin as soon as possible.
- Throw away all blood stained items, including clothing and dressings, into a bin which has a lid.
Dried blood has a very low risk of passing on any infection. Once the blood is dried no special precautions are usually needed.
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