CARDINAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF WOUND INFECTION
A patient who has an infected wound may show symptoms at the wound site and
also have general symptoms. Symptoms at the wound site are caused by the
inflammation process. The generalized signs and symptoms of infection are the body's
response to infection. The degree to which a person shows some or all of these
symptoms depends greatly on how severe the infection is and how much resistance to
infection a person has. Here are signs and symptoms of wound infection.
a. At the wound site:
Pain and tenderness.
Redness and swelling.
Increased local temperature.
Formation of pus.
(5) Cellulitis. In this condition, infection spreads through the subcutaneous
layer of skin. Signs and symptoms include edema, (fluid retention), erythema (redness),
warmth, and local pain.
(6) Lymphangitis/lymphadenitis. This is inflammation of the lymph channels
and nodes indicated by red streaks leading away from the wound.
(7) Local infection has a defined area while infection that is spreading is ill-
defined with obvious involvement to the surrounding area.
b. Involvement of the entire body is evidenced by fever and possible chills.
a. General. It is difficult to identify microorganisms under a microscope unless
they have been stained. Hans Christian Gram, a Danish histologist, developed the
Gram stain procedure in 1884, a procedure used universally. Bacteria are classified as
either positive or negative, depending on their stain reaction. An organism that takes up
and retains the crystal violet stain will appear purplish under the microscope; these are
gram-positive organisms. Other organisms will retain the pink or red counterstain,
safranin. These organisms are known as gram-negative.