University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
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Programs and Services

Total Joint Replacement

Wound Infections

What you need to know about Wound Infections

Definition - A break in the skin that shows signs of infection. This includes sutured wounds, puncture wounds and scrapes. Most wound infections occur 24 to 72 hours after the initial break in the skin. Signs and Symptoms of a Wound Infection:

  • Pus or cloudy fluid draining from the wound
  • Pimple or yellow crust formed on the wound
  • Scab has increased in size
  • Increasing redness around the wound
  • Red streak is spreading from the wound toward the heart
  • Wound has become extremely tender
  • Pain and swelling increasing after 48 hours since the wound occurred
  • Wound has developed blisters or darkened colored tissue
  • Lymph node close to wound becomes large and tender
  • Onset of widespread bright red sunburn-like rash
  • Onset of fever
  • Wound hasn’t healed within 10 (ten) days after the injury

When to Call your Doctor:

Call your doctor now (night or day) if:

  • Excessive bleeding or drainage occurs
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • Bright red, sunburn-like rash on your body
  • Fever occurs
  • Red streak runs from the wound
  • Increasing redness around the wound
  • Severe pain in the wound
  • Face wound with sign of infection
  • Finger wound, where finger has sausage shaped swelling and pain

Call your doctor within 24 hours if:

  • You think you need to be seen
  • Pus/bloody or cloudy drainage from the wound
  • Pimple where a stitch/suture comes through the skin
  • Wound becomes more tender after the 2nd day
  • Sutures come out early
  • Suture removal is overdue

Expected Course:

  • Pain and swelling normally peak on day 2.
  • Any redness should go away by day 3 or 4.
  • Complete healing should occur by day 10.
  • Don’t miss your appointment for removing stitches. Stitches removed late can leave unnecessary skin marks and occasional scarring. It also makes suture removal more difficult. • If the sutures come out early, reinforce the wound with butterfly band-aids or dry dressing until the office visit.
  • After removal of the sutures, protect the wound from injury during the following month.
  • Allow the scab to fall off naturally. • Do not try to remove it.
  • Notify your doctor for appropriate reatment. If the wound incision is open and/or draining, seek emergency care.

Note: This information is not intended to be a substitute for your doctor’s advice and instructions. It is provided for educational purposes only.