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Wound and Skin Infections

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The risk of wound infection can be minimized with prompt and proper wound cleansing and treatment. Many superficial bacterial infections and viral infections will resolve on their own without treatment. Other bacterial infections may require only a topical antimicrobial, and some cases require incision and drainage.

Deeper infections, and those that are persistent, typically require antibiotics. The choice is based upon the results of wound culture and antimicrobial susceptibility tests. People with antibiotic-resistant bacteria or with an infection in a location that is difficult for drug therapy to penetrate (such as bone) may require extended treatment and/or treatment with intravenous (IV) medications.

Wounds may also require removal of dead tissue (debridement) and/or drainage, sometimes more than once. Topical antimicrobials and debridement are also used for burn treatment. With extensive injuries, grafting and other surgeries may be required.

Treatment plans can be affected by the presence of underlying conditions that can slow wound healing, such as diabetes, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and other disorders that compromise the immune system. A healthcare practitioner may need to perform tests to detect these underlying conditions.

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