Wound Infection – The Stages of Infection

Jun 23, 2021 | 2021 News Stories, Education

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Infection in wound care  the stages of infection

Wound infection is often associated with delayed wound healing and an increase in morbidity. These infections are difficult to treat, and can also add to complications and cause distress to the patient. Early detection/ recognition along with appropriate and effective intervention is necessary to reduce the consequences both health-wise and financially.

Infection

It can be defined as the invasion and multiplication of microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses, and parasites) that are not normally present within the body. An infection may cause no symptoms and be subclinical, or it may cause symptoms and be clinically apparent. An infection may remain localized, or it may spread through the blood or lymphatic vessels to become systemic (MedicineNet 2017).

Wound infection is the invasion of a wound by proliferating microorganisms to a level that invokes a local and/or systemic response in the host. The presence of microorganisms within the wound causes local tissue damage and impedes wound healing (International Consensus 2016).

stages of infection

STAGES IN THE WOUND INFECTION CONTINUUM

Contamination
Wound contamination is the presence of non-proliferating microbes within a wound at a level that does not evoke a host response.

Colonisation
Colonisation refers to the presence within the wound of microbial organisms that undergo limited proliferation without evoking a host reaction.

Local infection
Wound infection occurs when bacteria or other microbes move deeper into the wound tissue and proliferate at a rate that invokes a response in the host.

Spreading infection
Spreading infection describes the invasion of the surrounding tissue by infective organisms that have spread from a wound.

risk of infection

There are several factors that can increase an individual’s susceptibility to infection.

  • Age
  • Diabetes (poorly controlled)
  • Hypoxia/poor tissue perfusion e.g. anaemia, cardiac/respiratory disease, arterial/vascular disease, renal impairment, rheumatoid arthritis, shock
  • Immune deficiency/immunosuppressant drugs
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Smoking, alcohol, drug use
  • Recent/prior surgery
  • Inappropriate use of prophylactic antibiotics
wound infection
Example of an infected wound
Wound Infection Education
To continue reading more about this topic, register for access to the ActivHeal Academy. It’s FREE!

The ActivHeal Academy covers multiple wound care topics including dressing selection and wound assessment. The Academy has over twenty hours of wound care education to support your Continuing Professional Development, including our Tissue Viability Society endorsed higher tier modules.

References:

  • Medicine Net; Medterms, Medical Dictionary A-Z, 2017
  • International Wound Infection Institute; Wound Infection in Clinical Practice, Principles of Best Practice, International Consensus Update 2016
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