infected wound - hospital

4 Tips to Preventing Surgical Wound Infection

Surgical wound infection is the most common type of hospital infection, and it is also the most expensive. In the United States alone, 300,000 patients suffer from an infected wound every year, but this number can be decreased significantly with proper wound care and management.

Here are four tips to prevent surgical wound infection and promote faster wound healing:

Proper Hand Washing

As common as it is, proper hand washing is still not practiced by most people, but it is very important, especially for those with surgical wounds. Good hand washing should include the use of soap and lukewarm water and it should be done for at least 30 seconds.

Proper hand washing is the first line of defense against an infected wound and it should be practiced as often as possible by both patients and healthcare practitioners. While hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative, proper hand washing is still the most effective way to clean your hands to prevent infection, especially when you are caring for your incision.

Proper Wound Closure

There are three types of wound closure that promote proper healing and prevent infection. Primary wound closure is done on a clean wound in through sterile technique and the use of proper sutures or adhesive closure materials.

Secondary primary closure means leaving the wound deliberately open as part of a delayed primary closure staging technique. Tertiary wound closure, on the other hand, means leaving a wound initially open after debridement.

It can also mean the repair of an existing wound after it was left open or has been left untreated. This is used for infected wounds with high bacterial content, those that were left untreated for a long time after injury and those with a severe crush component.

Proper Wound Dressing 

Proper wound dressing is one of the most effective ways to keep from developing an infected wound. Depending on the type of wound, clinicians will recommend a specific type of dressing to keep the area clean and dry.

Simple techniques involving washing your wound with a mild antibacterial soap and applying a clean, dry bandage after it is completely dry can also be used. The use of harsh cleaners such as alcohol and hydrogen peroxide is not recommended. The removal of scabs also requires the expertise of clinicians or other healthcare practitioners.

Proper Prescription

It is common for surgeons to prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to patients after surgery, and they should be taken religiously following the right dosage and timing.

Never stop taking antibiotics if you feel some side effects or if you feel that you don’t need it anymore. Completing a cycle of antibiotics is very important in controlling infection and in preventing antibiotic resistance, which could lead to worse complications.

There are many ways to keep an infected wound at bay. You don’t have to suffer the complications of an infection if you follow proper techniques following your surgery. It’s also very important to work with your healthcare providers in ensuring your incision heals properly and without any problems.


We specialize in diagnosis and treatment for any and all wound care issues for patients in San Diego County, Orange County and Riverside County. For more information or to set an appointment, please contact us.