Knowing how to identify signs of infection is essential to ensure you receive critical treatment as quickly as possible to avoid complications. There are ways to determine whether a foot wound is healing or infected, but the best way is to see a Tarrant County podiatrist specializing in skin and wound care at the first sign of a problem.
Monitor Your Foot Wound
Injuries to your feet can range from minor scrapes and cuts to serious lacerations. Whether you're dealing with a small abrasion or a more significant wound, it's important to monitor the healing process to know if it’s progressing normally.
Possible Signs a Foot Wound is Healing
- Your wound is developing a scab. Platelets form a clot at the injury site, and as it dries, it forms a scab. After your wound goes through the bleeding and clotting stages, it should form this “protective shield” to keep out germs and bacteria.
- There are signs of swelling. Swelling shows that blood vessels have widened to send blood, oxygen, minerals, and vitamins to your wound, and your immune system is working on wound repair.
- There is new tissue growth. After there’s no longer swelling around your wound, new tissue will form.
- There is scarring. Eventually, the scab will fall away from the wound, and there will be a scar. This scar will likely fade away; however, it may take months or years if your wound was severe and/or infected.
Why a Foot Wound May Heal Slowly
All foot wounds are unique, and yours may heal more slowly than what’s expected. A few key medical conditions can cause slow-healing foot wounds, including diabetes. This medical condition affects how your body processes glucose and can lead to poor circulation. This decrease in circulation prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the wound, thus slowing down its healing process. Poorly managed diabetes can also result in dehydration, which can further slow the healing of a foot wound. Other medical conditions that can cause a wound to heal slowly include:
- Vascular disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
Possible Signs of an Infected Foot Wound
- Redness and swelling. This is often one of the first signs of infection and should be monitored closely. Signs of redness and swelling in a wound can indicate that the area is becoming inflamed, which could mean an infection is developing.
- Warmth. If the skin around the wound changes temperature and begins to feel warm or hot, this can indicate an infection.
- Discharge. If your foot wound is secreting pus, it is likely that the wound is infected. This is a sign that bacteria has entered the wound, and the wound needs to be treated immediately to prevent further complications.
- Foul odor. If you notice a foul odor coming from the wound, it is a sign that it is infected. A healing foot wound will not omit a foul odor.
- Pain. If you are experiencing sharp or consistent pain around your foot wound, this could be a sign of an infection. It’s important to be aware of any pain near your wound, and alert your podiatrist immediately if it worsens.
- Fever. If you have a fever, it is likely an indication of infection and should not be ignored. A fever may mean the infection is more serious than initially thought and needs immediate attention.
Don’t wait to seek medical treatment if you notice any signs of infection. An infection can spread to surrounding tissue or bone and become gangrene. If the infection cannot be controlled, amputation may be needed to save your life.
Not All Foot Wounds Are the Same
Your feet are responsible for carrying the weight of your entire body and supporting it during strenuous activities. Consequently, they are prone to stress and injuries. If left untreated, a foot wound can lead to serious long-term problems such as infection, nerve damage, and difficulty walking.
Different Types of Foot Wounds
- Blisters. Blisters are small pockets of fluid that form on the skin, often due to friction. When a blister opens, it becomes a wound and is at risk of infection.
- Cuts and lacerations. Skin abrasions or cuts can be caused by sharp objects or repeated rubbing. If bacteria enter a cut or laceration, that wound can become infected, which can lead to more serious complications.
- Venous stasis ulcer. A venous stasis ulcer develops on the legs or ankles and is caused by damage to the veins.
- Arterial ulcer. An arterial ulcer often develops due to poor circulation and can form on areas such as the toes or the outer ankles.
No matter what type of foot wound you may have, it is essential to seek proper medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage and allow for quicker healing.
When is it Time to See Our Tarrant County Podiatrist?
It's important to identify whether your foot wound is healing properly or if it has become infected. If your foot wound shows signs of infection, you should visit our Tarrant County podiatrist as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action and treat any infection that may be present. Contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for a consultation today.
We can evaluate your foot wound and create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and perform procedures such as surgical debridement, if necessary. To request an appointment, please contact our Grapevine or Keller office by filling out our online contact form or calling our office at 817-481-4000