How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

Going on a camping trip or on a hike can be a very satisfying experience: after all, it’s you and the desert. However, accidents happen and you can be injured. In this article, we will let you know which are the most common injuries when you are outdoors, how to know if a cut is infected and how to treat it.

This will help you understand the most likely hazards where you are going, and can help you plan better when it comes to the medical tools you need to pack, and also learn how to help someone who does not realize they have a danger. wound.

The most typical camping injuries.

Depending on where you go, the environment you are in, the animals, the plants and the insects with which you are going to share the space, you can be prone to a lot of accidents. That said, the most common injuries that affect campers and hikers are:

Weather related

Even if you are fully prepared on your camping trip, you should know that weather is a serious factor that can affect your well-being. Also, if you do not have the right clothes or equipment, you may be affected by:

  • Freezing
  • Heat hits
  • Dehydration

Freezing It happens when it is too cold outside and you are not wearing gloves, a hat or shoes warm enough. The first ones affected by the freezing are its extremities, and if it is not careful to protect them, they can even be amputated. The dangerous thing here is that you do not even see the freezes coming: you think you can take the cold and then you wake up with your fingers numb and numb.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

Heat hits They are also quite dangerous, since they can even leave you unconscious or delirious. The best thing you can do is pack a hat with a big wing so that the sun does not exhaust you too much. Pack light-colored clothing and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, even if it’s windy and you feel cool.

Dehydration It happens when you do not drink enough water, so make sure you have taken enough with you. Also, it is always a good idea to take a sip from time to time, even if you are not thirsty, your body can make jokes and you can be thirsty without realizing it.


When you sleep and move in a different environment than you are used to, your skin can feel the tension. Consequently, all kinds of new plants and dirt that you come in contact with can irritate your skin, but the most common types of rashes are caused by plants such as poison ivy and oak. If this happens, the best course of action is to clean the eruption with plenty of water.

Other types of rashes can be caused by sunburns, if you are not careful to protect your skin from the burning sunrays. Do you remember our tips on big wide-brimmed hats? Well, if you forget it, you can still treat sunburns with a little aloe due to its soothing properties, as well as drinking lots of water to cool the skin temperature.

The bites

The bite of a mosquito is quite unpleasant, but what happens if a larger animal manages to sting you, like a snake? Also, it does not even have to be big; It can be as small as a termite or a spider. But if you run into a poisonous troublemaker, you may find yourself in a lot of trouble.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

On the off chance that a poisonous creature bites you, the best you can do is bandage the bite with great force and even immobilize the entire affected limb until you reach the hospital. Otherwise, remember to use your insect repellent and have a fire ready to burn the ticks that may have crawled on you.


These small lesions can appear due to all kinds of reasons, but irritation is the typical cause that gives rise to the blisters. For example, if your trekking shoes are too loose, that could cause your foot to have too much space inside the shoe, allowing friction between the sock and the foot. If you go hiking for a long time, the chances of getting blisters increase proportionally.

Therefore, to prevent blisters from appearing, you should avoid friction. Up to this point, you can choose better shoes and socks that absorb moisture, and you can even opt for specific equipment for the sport, since each trip is different.

Fractures and sprains

Rock climbing and steeper terrain are the number one causes that lead to sprains, if you hurt your ankles or wrists. As such, you may lose your balance and trip or twist your limbs.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

The action to take is to immediately place a splint on the extremity and tie it with medical tape, so that it is fixed and in less danger of suffering more injuries. It can relieve pain and reduce inflammation with an ice pack.

Bone fractures are more dangerous and also more painful, so it is best to immobilize your limb with a splint before arriving at the hospital quickly.

Cuts and open wounds.

Because of the risk of infection, cuts and open wounds require urgent care. The worst part is that they can go unnoticed until it’s too late. In addition to this, you must also learn how to recognize an infected cut and how to treat one before going to the emergency room, as the early hours are crucial.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

That is why it is very important to have everything you need in your first aid kit, so that the wound can be cleaned and treated properly. These items are:

  • Hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cotonetes.
  • Bacitracin
  • Bandages
  • Medical tape

If you do not have hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the wound, it is a good idea to wash it with plenty of water. You can use cotton swabs to get to the most difficult parts of your cut and make sure you get all the foreign bodies out. After the cut is clean and dry, place bacitracin on top so it can heal faster, cover it carefully and then secure the bandages with medical tape.

What happens when you cut yourself?

Understanding the mechanics of an open wound can help you treat it better. As such, the first thing your body does when it pierces the skin is to avoid the unnecessary loss of blood by coagulation. Therefore, specific blood cells called platelets are sent to the site of injury and gather around the cut to help your blood clot faster. In fact, they function as a kind of barrier against the blood that comes out of the wound.

This is why it is important to clean the cut correctly and apply bacitracin, as it can only help to coagulate the blood faster. However, the clot itself is made of blood cells. One of them is called fibrin which, as its name tells us, looks like a fiber or a thread. Its function is to keep the clot in place so that a crust can appear on the cut.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

At this point, two things can happen. One is that the scab protects the wound from bacteria or other potential injuries that can affect the cut more than any other non-injured part of your body. Without this scab, an infection or even other possible damage to the wound can occur.

The reason why the crusts are so effective to protect your cut is that they are basically a hard crust. If things go well, this bark fulfills its function of protecting the wound and discourages the appearance of infections. In this case, it will fall on its own at some point and may leave you with a nice scar to act as a reminder.

The other thing that can happen is that the blood clot is penetrated by bacteria or dirt, so the scab can not be formed properly. In this case, your court becomes infected and the most common causes are:

  • Bacteria on the instrument or on the rock with which you cut yourself.
  • Dirt that is not cleaned properly.
  • Bacteria that manage to reach the wound when you do not disinfect it completely.
  • Foreign objects that remain under your bandage.
  • More cuts or irritation of the wound that prevents the crust from forming.

Symptoms of a possible infection.

If you accidentally cut your skin when camping or climbing, it is best not to ignore the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat in the cut
  • Pus or drainage that drips from the wound.
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands under the chin or in the neck, armpits or groin.

All these signs are the way your body tells you something is wrong.

If you are in pain That means that the cut was not cleaned properly and the foreign object that still remains there prevents your body from forming the clot. That’s why it hurts: the clot forms around the speck of dust or dirt that is still trapped in the wound.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

An additional mark showing that the cut was not cleaned accurately is swelling. This may also indicate that the bacteria have protruded from your skin and your blood is sending reinforcements to fight them.

The same happens with redness Y hot: your blood is actively trying to prevent the infection from developing further, so it irrigates the cut. If you have reached the stage of white or yellowish. pus Draining from the wound means that your body is forming it to expel what is hindering your healing process.

Fever Most of the time it indicates a bacterial infection, and it occurs because the temperature of your body has increased in an effort to combat dangerous bacteria.

the Inflamed glands Show that your immune system has been affected and, therefore, forms an enlarged lymph node.

That said, it is also important to keep in mind that the location of the wound may be a contributing factor to the risk of infection. The areas most prone to infections because they offer a humid and shaded environment for bacteria are:

  • Anal area
  • Genital area
  • Skin folds
  • Space between the fingers

Infected lesions in these areas are also more likely to not be noticed until it is too late. If you have a cut on your hand or leg and are using something that exposes you to the air, an infection is more likely to develop, but it can happen as long as the cut is deep and can not be completely cleaned. With the instruments you have.

Consequently, in these cases, the cuts become more deeply infected in the skin layer and you may feel the pain as if it came from somewhere else within the limb.

You may also be more likely to develop cutting infections if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or immune system deficiencies.

The risks of an infected cut.

There are many other conditions that arise from an infected cut, and that is why it is always a good idea to prevent your current condition from escalating. Do not ignore the signs we have listed above and do not hesitate to go to the emergency room if you are really worried. In fact, it can save your life, since an infected cut can cause unpleasant things like gangrene, septicemia, infections by staphylococcus or toxic shock.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

Since these risks are quite dangerous, we will examine them individually to give you a better idea of ​​why you should never ignore the signs of an infected cut.


Gangrene is the result of cutting off the blood supply from the infected area, which causes the tissue to die. It is also called wet gangrene because the tissue around the wound will swell and pus will appear. The problem here is that an infection like this can spread very quickly and put your life in danger.

Symptoms include:

  • Coldness
  • Dry skin that goes from blue to black.
  • Fever
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Pus
  • Swelling


Wet gangrene can also cause septicemia, which is when your blood becomes infected and it really is a necessity to get to a hospital as soon as possible. You will know you are in the early stages of sepsis if you experience:

  • Pain and rash on the body.
  • Change in body temperature.
  • Cold skin, wet and pale.
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Fast beats
  • Short of breath.

Staphylococcal infections

Apart from these, staphylococcal infections are also quite common to develop after the cut has been infected. They are caused by a germ called Staphylococcus, which is a bacteria that even healthy people have on their skin or in their nose.

However, if the Staph get into an open wound that is also deeper, they can be quite dangerous. From the bloodstream, staphylococci can reach the lungs and the heart, as well as the bones and joints. It goes without saying that they can cause havoc and cause really important health problems if not treated properly.

Since the symptoms are very different from one case to another, talking to your doctor is the best advice you can follow. You will have a blood test and will probably receive some antibiotics after your infected area has been properly drained.

Toxic shock syndrome

If you do not treat the infections by staphylococci quickly and correctly, you can reach the stage of toxic shock syndrome. This is another medical problem that can be deadly, and is a direct result of the toxins that the Staphs produce in your body.

As such, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • A high fever
  • A rash on your palms and plants that looks like a sunburn.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Confusion.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle pains.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

How to treat your wounds

Treating an infected cut is something that can be done if you treat your wound properly and follow these steps.

Stop bleeding

This is the first important step that you should make sure you do. You must stop the bleeding so that the blood coagulates faster. Conversely, if the bleeding does not stop, this may show you that a foreign object is still stuck in your wound.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

You can stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area with something clean. You can use a bandage or even a towel, but you should make sure to maintain the pressure for a few minutes before removing it.

At this point, you have to fight against your desire to look under the towel to see if the clot has formed or not. Also, if the cut is on an extremity, be sure to lift it so you can prevent blood from flowing in the direction of the wound.

If you can not stop the bleeding or if the wound is too big, it is better to go directly to the hospital.

Clean the cut

At this point, you may have succeeded in stopping the bleeding and may continue to clean your wound.

The steps you must follow are:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean the wound with plenty of water.
  • Pat the cut with a clean towel to dry it. Do not scrub, otherwise you will start to bleed again.
  • Disinfect the cut with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Apply your bandage.

Additional maintenance

After the cut is properly bandaged, you should make sure that the bandage stays clean to prevent infection. In addition to keeping it clean, the bandage should be kept dry because, otherwise, the crust can not form properly and a humid environment is the perfect home for bacteria. The best option would be to use a waterproof bandage, but if you do not have one on hand, remember that you can change your bandages as often as needed.

How to Tell If A Cut Is Infected: Know The Risks of Your Camping Trip

In addition to this, your pain receptors may be screaming if the cut is deeper than a simple brazing, in case you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen for a day or two.

Additional steps in case of suspecting an infection.

As we said before, if you think the cut is infected, it is best to go to the hospital. You will probably receive some antibiotics after the medical staff has cleaned and disinfected your cut better.

But if you do not have immediate access to the hospital, you should follow the steps below to treat your infected wound:

  • Re-clean the wound and check for dirt or other stuff stuck in it.
  • Disinfect your wound periodically with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. This aims to combat existing bacteria.
  • Change your bandages often.
  • If you can, expose your wound to air and sunlight to facilitate scabs.
  • Apply ice to the infected area to reduce swelling and redness.
  • Apply a little aloe in the cut, can accelerate the healing process.
  • Take paracetamol: besides being a good analgesic, it also has some antibacterial properties and can help with your fever to a certain extent.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and less prone to fever.

That said, cuts and open wounds should not be played, but neither are other typical camping injuries that can occur accidentally, since some of them can also become infected. As such, the most appropriate course of action always requires good research and preventive measures, as well as a fully equipped first aid kit so you can make sure you are treating your injury with the greatest care.


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