Managing Wound Infections

The effective and efficient management of wound infections is one of the most important skills for the wound care professional to master. Regardless of any other intervention that is applied, no matter how sophisticated, a wound will not properly heal if an untreated infection is present.

Topical Antimicrobials

Antimicrobial therapy is key to managing wound infection. Antimicrobial agents may be delivered to the wound either topically or systemically. Topical antimicrobials may be delivered either through impregnated dressings, ointments, or creams. The choice of topical antimicrobial depends on the particular wound characteristics, and the options are too numerous to cover in depth here. This is a rapidly advancing area of wound management, with new preparations coming on to the market all the time. As with all pharmaceutical products, it is wise to check the product claims thoroughly before use, and to build up your own short-list of preferred products based on your own experience and according to purchasing constraints.

Although managing wound infections through topical antimicrobial agents tends to be less expensive than systemic treatment, there are occasions on which systemic treatment with oral antibiotics may be appropriate. For example, antibiotics may commonly be required for patients with sepsis, deep-space infections, or signs of advancing infection. Some patients seem to prefer oral antibiotics to topical therapies, and compliance rates tend to be higher. However, taking oral antibiotics increases the risk and severity of side effects, and may lead to the possible development of antibiotic-resistant strains.


In conjunction with antimicrobial therapy, whether topical or systemic, wound debridement also plays a vital role in the management of infections. Regular debridement of necrotic tissue and removal of exudate from the wound surface reduces bacterial bioburden and can transform a recalcitrant, infected wound into an actively healing wound.

Management of Wound Infection

Management of wound infection is a critical aspect of wound care, and a skill in which all wound care specialists should be confident. To refresh your knowledge of wound infection, and to learn more about current techniques and protocols for the management of wound infection, consider gaining a certification in wound care.

Learn More With Our Wound Care Education Options

Interested in learning more about wound care and certification? Browse through our wound care certification courses for information on our comprehensive range of education options to suit healthcare professionals across the full spectrum of qualifications and experience.


  1. Fleck CA. Fighting Infection in Chronic Wounds. Adv in Skin & Wound Care 19(4):184-188.
  2. Landis SJ. Chronic Wound Infection and Antimicrobial Use. Adv Skin & Wound Care 21(11):531-540.
  3. Myers BA. Wound management principles and practice. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson; 2008.

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