Cleanliness is one of the best ways to prevent infection.

According to a 2013 review in the journal Ulcers, between 500,000 and 600,000 Americans are diagnosed with a foot ulcer each year. Additionally, six percent of diabetic patients with foot ulcers will be hospitalized due to infection, per figures from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Infections have become so bad that in 2010 alone, there were 27,000 patients who died with either infection or bedsores in the U.K., as The Telegraph reported. Fortunately, infections from foot ulcers or other injuries don’t have to be so life-altering. To better prevent these nasty complications, patients must recognize the signs of infection, understand the inherent dangers and learn proper wound care.

How do wound infections occur?

Generally speaking, most wounds are large openings on the skin’s surface that are susceptible to invading microbes. According to DermNet New Zealand Trust, there are three basic ways that microbials might enter the body. The most obvious way is through contact with an unsanitary source during surgery or other medical treatment. Patients are just as vulnerable to airborne infection, especially if they’re in a hospital or similar medical center for an extended period. Finally, sometimes the cause of infection is the patient’s body, as germs and other bugs can travel from the intestine or mucous membranes into the wound site.

What are the signs of a wound infection?

There are hundreds of bacterial strains that cause infection. However, each one leaves the same calling cards as it infects the host. One of the most common signs of infection is redness in the wound site or swelling of the surrounding skin. Similarly, the site and nearby tissue may feel warm to the touch, or actually radiate heat outward. Aside from temperature changes, an infection will also cause localized pain within the wound site. Some of that sensitivity may also be linked with drainage, which is quite frequent with infections. Finally, someone who has an infection may experience feelings of malaise, or a distinct lack of energy.

How do you manage wound infections?

If left untreated, an infected wound can become septic, which can result in wide-scale damage to your internal organs. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, preventing infection is a multi-faceted procedure. Since infections are most common with wounds following surgery, regular hand cleaning before and after the operation is essential. Even with non-surgical wounds, cleaning with antibacterial soap is always recommenced. Similarly, taking antibiotics before and after surgery, or following an injury, can mitigate your chances of developing an infection. No matter what, it’s important you speak with your primary caregiver, as he or she can help tailor your treatment for your specific medical background.

Ask your clinician which Advanced Tissue products are best for your wound care needs.