Red Lining

Infections are no laughing matter. No matter how careful we are we still get scratches, scrapes and punctures as well as the occasional more serious cuts. Keeping up on tetanus shots is important as is immediate attention to a wound. Still, once in a while it will get out of control and the bacteria start to win.

She sliced the side of her thumb open with a dirty, dull utility knife on Sunday. She cleaned it as usual and applied a band-aid.

Tuesday morning it was a bit inflamed and sore with spreading redness.

Tuesday afternoon the thumb was stiff. At my urging she called and made an appointment with our family physician to go in to have it looked at the next day since antibiotics were likely necessary at that point.

Tuesday evening there was a red line running up her arm from the infection. The inflammation was definitely worse and draining into her lymph system. I had her immediately contact the doctor on call who said she should go in this evening to the emergency room. We did and they gave her an IV plus oral antibiotics. They also said it was a very good thing she had come in that night rather than waiting for her appointment the next day as the infection was serious but fortunately had not yet spread to her blood.

Wednesday morning she kept her appointment and our family physician reiterated that it was important that she had gone in the night before because it had changed so rapidly. By then it was looking a little bit better.

How to care for a cut according to the doctor?

  1. Wash it under tap water to flush out any foreign debris and most bacteria.
  2. Air dry.
  3. If available apply an antibacterial ointment such as Bacitracin, Neosporin or Polysporin.
  4. Apply a bandage to protect it from contamination but only as needed – air exposure is good.
  5. Watch for infection and contact your doctor if you see signs of:
    1. Redness
    2. Swelling
    3. Painful
    4. Stiffness in joints
    5. Red line – bad
    6. Fever – real bad
    7. Nausia – real, real bad
    8. Unconscious – Let’s not go there…

Interestingly they said don’t apply Hydrogen Peroxide (HOOH 3% solution), which is what we used to do, the reason being that it degrades healthy tissue. However, when cleaning stitches they do recommend using Hydrogen Peroxide. Alcohol, while more mild than Hydrogen Peroxide, was also not generally advised.

They did suggest using heat from a warm pack on a mild infection or in combination with the antibiotics for more serious infections. I’ve also heard of soaking the wound in a salt water bath but didn’t get a chance to ask about that.

Today, Saturday, almost one week after the injury it looks much better and she has full use of her thumb again. Prompt attention made the difference. This is a key we work to instill in our children. Don’t hide an injury. It could get far worse. Taking care of it might hurt a little for a moment, cleaning the wound, but it makes a big difference in the long term outcome.

There are many contradictions at so it is not recommended for minor patients. Adult people must use it carefully. Remember that using Tramadol can cause vertigo, so you should be extremely careful during driving.

Outdoors: 71°F/55°F Sunny
Farm House: 76°F/69°F
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/61°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Infection!

  1. Gaile says:

    ugh! that looks pretty angry in that photo. so glad you have access to good care and got it all worked out. Even better to hear she’s on the mend. Good advice, and thanks for posting the list of care – i too use peroxide on things and didn’t know it degraded healthy tissue. Thanks!!!

  2. Paige says:

    Another interesting first aid peroxide bit of info is dont use it when using super glue or most skin glues, it doesnt mix well. It smokes and burns :(

  3. Lisa says:

    That sure looks hot and painful! Thanks for the reminder to take care of wounds and followup if things go from bad to worse! Out in the country, medical care is sometimes quite a distance away. It pays to learn all we can about caring for ourselves out here!

    I knew about the peroxide, but had forgotten. thanks for the tip!

  4. So glad Holly is feeling better.

  5. i am glad she is better? I pray she is, this looks serious!

  6. traye says:

    I saw this post some time back, who knew I’d use it. I did the exact same thing yesterday, the cut is trivial except location and depth, right on tendon on back of my thumb and to the bone. I’m heading to see my doctor as soon as they open tomorrow (Tuesday after memorial day). I had checked back on this post to see the timing on Holly’s infection. I look pretty good today we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Oh, I put honey from our farm on mine after cleaning it out.

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