Wound infections – essential advice



Here is some important advice around how to treat wound infections.

Wound infections:

  • Are caused when a wound (including somewhere you inject drugs) gets infected by bacteria
  • Can be serious and have led to people being taken into hospital, losing arms and legs, and even dying
  • Are increasing across England in people who use drugs.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Heat, swelling, redness, aches and pains around a wound, joint or muscle.
  • Pus and/or unpleasant smell from site of wound.
  • Wound that will not heal.
  • A swollen pus-filled lump under the skin (abscess).
  • Red, painful, hot, swollen, tender, blistered skin.
  • Dizziness, confusion.
  • Shortness of breath, fast breathing, difficulty breathing.
  • Unexplained ‘bruising’ or rash.

Ways To Reduce Risk

  • Wash your hands before injecting.
  • Clean injecting sites.
  • Use new kit every time.
  • Don’t re-use filters or lick needles before using them.
  • Try and avoid missed hits.
  • Don’t inject into your groin.

Seek Medical Attention

If left untreated, these infections can get worse and can even kill. Early identification and treatment are vital. If someone has a combination of the symptoms mentioned above they should seek medical attention from their GP, call NHS 111 for advice or – if symptoms are severe – go straight to hospital. In an emergency, call 999.